Cellphone registration

August 19, 2019

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MY daughter, who is studying abroad, visited home after three years on May 10. Before leaving Pakistan, she visited a phone franchise to get her cellphone registered. The account opening part went smoothly, but when the phone IMEI was entered for registration the message displayed on the screen said: “Entered passport information is not eligible under FBR tax exemption baggage rules”. The operator regretted that the registration process could not be processed further.

My daughter left soon after and entrusted me with the task of getting her phone registered. I checked the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s website and learned that they have a toll-free helpline for but the number was always busy.

I lodged an e-complaint on their website and waited for four days before checking the status, and was happy to note the status showed the issue had been resolved. My happiness was short-lived as my attempt to register the phone had again the same issue.

While browsing the PTA website, I came across direct phone numbers of PTA officials designated to help people facing registration problems. I tried them all but no one ever answered.

I also sent e-mails to three different addresses given on the website and was pleasantly surprised to receive replies from all three within two days. Two of these were automated acknowledgements while in the third e-mail, I was asked for my daughter’s passport and travel documents which I submitted. After a week I sent a reminder and was asked to furnish the same information again.

A week later I was copied in a mail sent by the PTA to the Federal Investigation Agency with the details of the travel itinerary for verification. The FIA efficiently replied the same day confirming the travel evidences to be correct as per their records.

Thinking my problem was resolved after the FIA verification, I attempted to get the phone registered and was disappointed again. Since then, I have stopped receiving any replies to my weekly reminders and it seems that my complaint has reached a cul de sac.

The 60-day grace period to register the phone is over but the phone has not been blocked yet but neither is it officially registered. I would appreciate if my complaint is redressed and I am saved the dread of getting the phone blocked unannounced.

M. L. Siddiqi

Karachi

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2019