Government to seek full disclosure on phone charges

Move comes after Bezeq accused of earnin NIS 20 million in "damages" from unsuspecting customers.

bezeq logo 88 (photo credit: )
bezeq logo 88
(photo credit: )
The Communications Ministry will request from telecommunications companies such as Bezeq Ltd. that they clearly inform customers about the cost of automatic call charges for their information and call back services. The ministry has sent out letters to the management of all communications companies informing them about its intention to make an adjustment to their licenses that would require the companies to let their costumers know about the cost of automatic call charges that are activated by dialing the star button. The idea is that the automatic dialing option would have to clearly state that the service would incur an extra charge. The letter referred to two cases in which customers are charged for an additional service without being informed. In one, customers took advantage of the automatic star dialing option offered by information line services such as Bezeq's 144, not knowing how much they were going to be charged for the added service. The second involves cases where the customer is charged for the automatic call back dialing option on their answering service. The move comes after the Israel Consumer Council this month charged that telecom giant Bezeq earned some NIS 20 million in "damages" from unsuspecting customers who dialed the company's 144 information line and incurred charges about which they may not have been aware. Bezeq, claimed the council, never once detailed the cost of the automatic calls, charging the customer an extra NIS 0.61 in addition to the NIS 1.81 standard fee for using the 144 service. According to council's survey, which questioned more than 500 random Israelis, revealed that 75 percent of the population used the 144 service and that while 79% knew that the service costs more than a regular call, 49% did not know how much more and 36% were not aware of the additional charge attached to the automatic star dialing option. The ministry has given the communications companies until June 25 to respond to the planned changes before a hearing will take place.