‘There is something fishy in Denmark.’

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Indeed there is something fishy. However it is not in Denmark, but in Belgium.
From a distance, the country seems to be fully functional. Yet beneath the surface, chaos is afoot.

At the end of 2010 and early 2011, Belgians witnessed how public radio & television, supported by crowdsourcing, had to put pressure on legislators and private companies alike to make amends.

On television, the popular ‘satiric’ program Basta! brought the companies behind ‘BELSPELLETJES’ (i.e. Quiz on tv where you have to make a phone call to provide your answer) down on their knees in a live broadcast while legislators followed quickly to announce policy measures against these illegal activities.
(See http://www.een.be/programmas/basta/de-mol-in-het-belspel)

On radio, the notorious duo Peeters & Pichal questioned the practices of unwanted SMS services over the network of the Belgian telecom operators.
(See http://www.radio1.be/programmas/peeters-pichal/ongewenste-sms-dienst-van-peeters-pichal)

And so this brings me to my personal frustration of the current days: unwanted SMS sent to your phone where the telecom operators charge you for, while washing their hands in innocense as a 21st century version of Pontius Pilatus.
As such, it has become a nuisance for many people and many useless phone calls have been spent leading only to more irritation and offering no solution to the customer.
Yet the plot gets thicker and at times becomes hilariously bewildering.

When I got caught in the web of such an intricate money making scheme, as so many before me, I did not notice what was happening: I just shrugged, deleted the unwanted SMS from my phone and got on with my life.

On the first monthly phone bill, I did not even notice, that I was being charged something extra.

However the second phone bill did ring an alarm bell in my head. I performed some searches on the telecom operator’s website to find out that there was no name or company information whatsoever about the sender of the unwanted SMS.

So I decided to go for civil disobedience, as a part of my customer’s rights, and I paid only what I had officially signed up for, nothing more & nothing less.

The third monthly phone bill carried a reminder about charges still to be paid and I started to receive SMS from the telecom operator reminding me of these.

I contacted their customer service department who told me it was out of their hands and I had to stop the unwanted SMS service myself (by sending a STOP message to the sender), which I subsequently did.

But this was no where the story ends:
– the phone company kept sending me reminders to pay, with an underlying threat of blocking my outgoing calls and if needed block my phone number alltogether.
– On April 8 suddenly my outgoing calls were blocked.

The only way to contact the accountancy department is by phone. With no landline at my disposal, the phone company blocked my only means of getting in touch with them quickly. 😦

  • I sent a complaint by registered letter to which I got no response whatsoever, except a new letter threatening me with legal action and to notify me that my phone number might be scrapped.
  • This week I received a new monthly bill – full fee – for my mobile phone subscription. A subscription where the company started blocking outgoing calls as of April 8!

For the timebeing, this seems to be a neverending story.
So I decided to vent my frustration on this blog – please forgive me – and to notify both radio & TV in Belgium of this issue since a web search taught me I am not the only traveller on this crusade.


*quote from inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panter – referring to the Shakespeare’s play Hamlet where Hamlet says: ‘There is something rotten in the state.’

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