PTCL Nationwide Plan Cancellation Instructions and Fraud Details
Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited has a subscriber base of 4.5 million users. PTCL in a recent revenue generation scheme enabled nationwide calling for all of it’s 4.5 million subscribers without their consent. At Rs.199 per month per subscriber, PTCL will generate anywhere from Rs.800 million to Rs.900 million in the first month alone.
PTLC’s plot to maximize customer retention into this plan is elaborate and operates at multiple tiers. Their business division and top business planners will probably get a nice bonus this year for devising such an ingenious plot to defraud customers.
The plot behind the fraud
- PTCL has introduced a Nationwide calling plan which at a cost of Rs.199 per month provides 5,000 minutes of talk time to any city in Pakistan. The obvious contention is that PTCL has enabled this on all PTCL lines by default and most users are unaware they are automatically subscribed and being charged Rs.199 per month.
- The bold print of the PTCL advertisement claims Nationwide is a free plan while the smaller print immediately following states there is a Rs.199 monthly fee for this plan. Which is it? The barely legible print of the advertisement states that the plan is limited to 5000 minutes. See the first advertisement
- Another PTCL Nationwide advertisement claims there are no hidden charges and the fine print then clarifies there are no hidden charges only if the customer cancels out of this plan. It is akin to someone telling you that a car has no hidden charges if you don’t decide to buy it. See the second advertisement.
- The cancellation instructions are to call 1236 and I called the number about 8 times over the course of half an hour. If you follow the prompts the final prompt says press 1 to confirm cancellation. After you press 1 the phone line goes silent for 30 seconds. Most people will hang up before 30 seconds are up thinking they have now opted out. The elaborate plot by PTCL is engineered to misdirect it’s subscribers. As I mentioned, the business division at PTCL have put their collective minds together to come up with this elaborate plot.
- 20% of the time, in my experience the 1236 number has been busy. This results in lesser call volume and subsequently lesser cancellations. The persistent customer will keep trying but will still fail at the final prompt.
- So you got through to 1236 and you pressed 1 at the final cancellation prompt and you waited 30 seconds and hoping you are now finally opted out. Actually 8 out of 8 times that I called, I got a message saying “The system is busy, please try again later”. At that point I was ready to give up as will most customers. So finally the customer really has no way to opt out of the system.
- This is not first time PTCL has done this. PTCL pulled the same stunt a year or so back with their Voice Mail feature which was activated on all phone lines by default. That scheme also generate tremendous revenues for PTCL.
How to cancel
Luckily for me, after failing 8 times the ninth time I dialed 1236 and decided to check on my voice mail feature and through that prompt I was able to get through to an operator. To cancel you can quickly follow these instructions without waiting to listen to the instructions on the phone:
- call 1236
- Press 2 for english (1 for urdu)
- Press 3 for voice mail setup
- Press 1 for voice mail activation/deactivation
- Ask operator to cancel your nationwide and voice mail if activated
Spread the word so that people can cancel. The last date to cancel without penalty was 31 December which means you are already too late.