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Mobile phone firm ‘overcharging’

Published on 04/02/2004

4 February 2004

MADRID – A major consumers’ association demanded Wednesday one of Spain’s biggest mobile phone firms stop ‘overcharging’ for voicemail calls.

The Federation of Consumers in Action (FACUA) claimed that calls to Movistar mobile telephones engaged in conversation are charged as a full minute of conversation if the phone’s answering machine is on.

Facua demanded that Telefónica Móviles cancel the new conditions of this service on the grounds of illegal advertising.

It said that on the last invoice sent to customers, the company stated that the answering machine would only be activated if the phone were turned off or out of range.

In a report published Wednesday, Facua added that Telefónica Móviles generates hundreds of millions of euros in extra income by charging a full minute for calls under 60 seconds.

They claimed they also rounded up longer calls to a full 30-second fraction and are trying to invoice customers for millions more euros of calls made yearly to engaged Movistar numbers.

The Federation claimed this practice is illegal and if the situation is not rectified they will report Telefónica to the highest authorities.

According to Facua, modifying the answering machine service conditions without previous warning goes against the 19 July 26/1984 General Law for the Defence of Consumers and Users and the 11 November 34/1988 General Advertising Law.

Advertising inserted with the latest invoices points out the answering machine can be activated by dialling 500 and only works when the phone is turned off or out of range.

But the same invoices do not state that the answering machine also becomes activated when the phone is engaged or the user doesn’t answer the incoming call on time.

Movistar users can deactivate their answering machine by dialling 537 from their mobile phone.

Telefonica Moviles has denied the claims.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news