Jamir Uddin, a young grocer in the capital's Mohammadpur, recently received a short message on his mobile phone which reads: “If you want to enjoy a hot video of a Bollywood couple, press 1.”
He pressed the digit but nothing appeared on his mobile screen. Rather, he found that Tk 27 was deducted from his phone's balance.
Jamir is not the only one who was conned by these types of offers.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has received such complaints about different packages, conditions and unwanted offers from operators.
But in most cases, the telecom regulator has not punished the offending operators.
Here comes the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP) as a saviour.
A few aggrieved customers have already lodged complaints with the directorate, which has fined three operators recently after hearing from both the complainants and the accused.
Robi was fined Tk 4.27 lakh for five deceitful offers, while Grameenphone and Banglalink were fined Tk 2.50 lakh and Tk 25,000 respectively for one offer each.
After the fines were slapped, significant progress has taken place in bringing down the number of unwanted packages offered by the operators, according to industry insiders.
A top executive of a leading mobile phone operator said some third parties were involved in the fraudulent activities such as the hot video-sharing.
“We have severed ties with them when we noticed this type of fraudulent offers,” said the official requesting anonymity.
Under these circumstances, the telecom division last week sent a letter to the telecom watchdog seeking information on whether the customers were falling into the operators' trap because of the offers and how the regulator is handling the matter.
The letter, signed by Mazeda Yasmin, a deputy secretary of the division, asked the regulator to submit a report by this month.
In August last year, the BTRC had decided to monitor the packages offered by the operators. But the operators are still offering unwanted package deals to their customers since they have not been given a directive.
The commission meeting also decided that the operators would have to take clearance from the BTRC before selling any package.
The BTRC asked the operators to keep the language of the packages simple and not to impose any hidden charge and condition.
The meeting gave responsibility to BTRC's systems and services division, which gives permission to the operators for packages, tariffs and service messages, and asked the division to follow proper guideline for the language used by the operators.
But there has been no progress in implementing the decision even though one year has passed, since the operators are still offering unwanted package deals. Now the existing laws allow the BTRC to take action against any offending operator.
If an operator does not take permission beforehand from the systems and services division, it could be fined, be made to compensate complainants, or in the worst case scenario could see their licence cancelled, according to the Directive on Service and Tariff 2015.
Ghulam Rahman, president of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh, said they have also observed that the mobile operators are involved in fraudulent offers.
“But we can't carry out any study on it, as our capacity is limited. We have received lots of complaints about such offers,” said Rahman, also a former chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission.
Rahman thanked the DNCRP for playing an active role and asked the telecom regulator to be proactive and pro-people.
He also requested the regulator take initiative to ensure that the offers are simple and to reduce the number of packages.
There are 13.5 crore active mobile connections in Bangladesh. Of them, 7.19 crore have access to internet as of May this year, according to the BTRC.