Investigation of Mobitel Overcharges Sought

The National Assembly has asked Telecommunications Min­ister So Khun to investigate whether Mobitel, the country’s leading mobile phone operator, over­charges prepaid customers.

National Assembly Acting President Heng Samrin and op­position parliamentarian Son Chhay issued a request to So Khun last week after a National Assembly committee received a complaint from Lim Seyha, a Mobitel customer who said he was charged four times for one phone call.

“I would like Minister So Khun to file a complaint with the court if Mobitel cheats its own clients, and the company has to repay the money it has overcharged,” the letter, signed by the two parliamentarians, states.

But So Khun said the ministry is not in position to investigate a private business dispute.

“The ministry has no rights to investigate a private company,” he said. “Mobitel is not owned by the state.”

So Khun, who is paid $2,500 a month as a Mobitel adviser, said individual clients should contact the company to resolve such issues.

“If the company refuses to pay money back to clients, then they could complain to the ministry or file a lawsuit with the court,” he added.

Lim Seyha, who uses Mobitel’s prepaid phone card system, said he learned about Mobitel’s overcharges through its Web site. He has tried to get an explanation from the company.

Lim Seyha said in his letter to the National Assembly that he has complained to Mobitel several times without a response.

As part of customer services, Mobitel has created a Web site where prepaid customers can check their phone usage and charges on-line.

In the system, the phone company deducts a charge from the prepaid card every time a customer makes a call.

Only post-paid customers receive monthly bills from phone operators.

Lim Seyha said several friends have had similar problems.

David Spriggs, Mobitel’s general manager, said the company met Lim Seyha last weekend and resolved the matter. He said it was a technical problem with the Internet.

“That was an error on the Web site,” Spriggs said, explaining how the Web site doesn’t always show the company’s actual call records for technical reasons.

He said the company only deducts charges from prepaid cards only for actual calls.

(Ad­ditional reporting by Yuko Maeda)



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