Smart Axiata Co Ltd, a part of Malaysian-owned Axiata Group Bhd, said it acknowledged an employee’s wrongdoing in a case where an active subscriber’s mobile phone number was reallocated to a new customer without the previous owner’s consent or agreement.
The statement comes on the heels of an announcement made by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications on July 22 concerning the matter, which Smart stresses was an isolated incident occurring on May 29.
Smart said it temporarily blocked the recycled number on May 30 – within 24 hours of receiving the complaint – and reassigned it to its original owner.
The mobile service provider said it voluntarily entered into discussions with the Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia (TRC) and relevant authorities on June 8 to find a resolution, providing a detailed account of the episode.
It claimed to have followed up with the subscriber, offering compensation on multiple occasions, which were apparently all turned down.
"We are continuing to work with the relevant institutions to satisfactorily resolve the complaint," Smart said on July 23 in response to questions from The Post.
“Smart Axiata would like to once again offer an unreserved apology to the affected customer for the inconvenience caused. We would also like to reaffirm our commitment to providing appropriate recompense to said customer as advised in the [ministry] announcement as well,” the telecoms firm said.
It said an internal analysis revealed misconduct by an employee, who has since been suspended from duties and will be subject to disciplinary action.
"Smart Axiata does not tolerate any behaviour that contravenes our values, policies or procedures, all of which have been designed to ensure our customers receive an exemplary, trustworthy service.
“As a company committed to honesty, fairness and the rights of consumers, we strongly condemn the actions of this individual employee and would like to state publicly that the employee went against our high standards and ethical responsibilities.
"Our internal procedures have since been further strengthened and additional measures introduced to ensure incidents such as this will not be repeated in the future,” Smart said.
Employees are barred from selling or transferring ownership of an active number to a new customer without the explicit consent and agreement of the existing and new subscriber, it said citing company policy and operating procedures.
The company’s terms and conditions, which can be viewed at smart.com.kh/terms-and-conditions, imply that mobile numbers are to remain in the possession of the subscriber for 90 days after the last top-up or payment made.
But once the 90 days have passed, Smart “reserves the right to withdraw the phone number and SIM card and to close the account of any subscriber” and reallocate the number to a new customer.
Still, Smart subscribers are notified through SMS multiple times within the 90-day window that their number could be recycled if they do not top up or pay their plan fee.
"Smart is fully dedicated and committed to our customers. We are extremely disappointed by the conduct of this individual employee in this isolated incident, and we will continue to focus on delivering the best possible service to our customers, remaining transparent in everything we do," it said.