Over the last couple of years, unsolicited SMS messages with promises that are too good to be true have become a norm for most Malaysians. From complex phishing scams to fake LHDN warnings, it is becoming a daily task to weed through legitimate SMS’s from fake ones to ignore. SMS itself has long ceased to be a primary mode of communication for most people aside from being used to receive banking TAC numbers, utility payment reminders as well as updates from your telecommunication provider.

However this week, in a somewhat unethical move, local telco Digi decided that it would be a great idea to send out a SMS offer to their prepaid customers – which their marketing team quickly assumed would be impossible to resist. So impossible that instead of making it an opt-in SMS, it was an opt-out SMS.

Essentially the SMS sent out between 22nd and 24th August read  “Enjoy Unlimited Calls and 500MB for 30 days@ RM5 only. Not interested? SMS N2 to 28282 by 25/8. T&C applies”. As an opt-out message, this simply meant that if you as a customer chose to ignore the message (which we all usually do!), you will be automatically charged RM5 for this “impossible to resist” offer.

While we’re not able to independently verify whether all their 8 million or so prepaid customers were sent out this “offer”, what we can confirm is that on 26th August, a storm erupted on our forums when Digi prepaid customers were sent a confirmation message that they have now been subscribed to this “offer”, and RM5 had been subsequently deducted from their account. As customers started sharing their own experiences, it became apparent that while some had RM5 deducted, others had RM10 deducted for a different “offer”. What is even more alarming is there were also those who never even received the opt-out offer, and got a shock when credits were deducted from their plans.

Digi’s own Facebook and Twitter pages was also flooded with irate customers who wanted an explanation as to why their credit had been deducted for a plan they did not subscribe to.

Sorry not Sorry

By late evening the same very day, Digi realised that the storm was not going to pass, and quietly decided to refund their users for the deducted credit. However, this refund came in the form of a free credit promo, which had a one month expiry date – much shorter then the expiry date the original credit would have had before it was deducted. While some customers received an “accidental charge” SMS along with their refund, others only received a message stating their account has been “adjusted” with a free credit promo together with their refund. The “offer” was thrown in as a freebie.

This was later adjusted once again, without any notifications – where the credit was restored to its original state prior to deduction. We’re not able to confirm if the “offer” was still thrown in as a freebie after the credit was completely restored.

While Digi gets a thumbs up for listening to their customers and quickly resolving this issue, it still highlights a very alarming concern on the issue of opt-out SMS, and whether it is an acceptable or ethical way for telecommunication companies to register consent from their customers.

Source : Lowyat Forums

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