NAWABSHAH: It came as a shock to thousands of mobile phone users when they learnt through Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s newly introduced facilitation service that cellular companies had registered and issued multiple SIMs (subscriber identity module) in their name against their CNIC numbers without bothering to inform them.
The facilitation service requires mobile phone users to send their CNIC numbers to 668 to inquire about exact number of SIMs issued in their name by different mobile phone companies. The service sends a reply message within seconds with number of SIMs registered in the users’ names.
Instead of giving peace of mind the service has sent shockwaves through thousands of customers.
They are piqued at the companies for befooling them, especially in the context of rising terrorist activities and possibility of abuse of the SIMs registered against their CNICs.
Syed Kamran Rizvi, a mobile phone user, said that he used four SIMs of two different mobile phone companies but he was shocked to learn that 13 SIMs were registered against his CNC number without his knowledge.
He said that he rushed to the nearest franchises of the companies but they refused to provide information or numbers issued in his name at the pretext that they were not allowed to provide any information because the system had been blocked by the head office.
He said the franchises of the mobile phone companies had misused his CNIC with impunity but now they were not ready to give him information or block the numbers.
He said that he was asked to visit the companies’ customer care centre situated in big cities like Hyderabad or Karachi for further details.
Ameer Ali said that he had only two SIMs but the service told him that 17 numbers had been issued against his CNIC number. Mobile phone companies had broken the customers’ trust, he said.
He said that he had made several attempts to get details of the numbers or get them blocked keeping in view the law and order situation but failed. When he contacted the companies’ helplines he was told that he would have to visit customer care centre and when he told them there were more than three franchises in Nawabshah and he could not go to Hyderabad, he was told that the franchises were restricted from issuing details or blocking numbers under PTA rules.
The companies with tall claims of having millions of customers should also provide travelling allowance to customers if they were asking them to go to big cities to get their problems solved, he said.
Kamran Ali Shaikh said that he was tired of visiting mobile phone companies’ offices and decided to take them to court. ‘This is ridiculous! they are making fool of us. When we ask them for help, they give only one answer that they cannot help under PTA rules and regulations,’ he said.
He said that when he bought a number, he was asked to sign a form, which was itself evidence that the other numbers registered in his name did not carry his signatures.
Sources in a mobile phone company said that after receiving strict directives from the PTA, the company directed its franchises to provide them a copy of CNIC with each number sold as well as meet sales targets. Since it was difficult for the franchise owners they started misusing the CNIC copies because it looked an easy way out at that time, said the sources.
An official at a mobile phone company said on condition of anonymity that the high-ups had taken notice of rising number of reports of quarrels at many franchise centres throughout the country. Hopefully, a solution would be sorted out in a couple of days, he said.
The mobile phone users demanded that the PTA should direct the mobile phone companies to provide details of numbers issued in their name and block them.