The details were explained in a press statement issued by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).
The mobile phone operator True Move H encouraged its subscribers to the 1800-megahertz spectrum service, for which the concession expired on Sept 15, 2013, to upgrade to its 3G service.
The subscribers to the old system would be able to use the service for another year after the concession expired. The new service would be operated by either Real Move Co, in the 850-MHz spectrum, or Real Future Co, in the 2,100-MHz spectrum.
The company then launched a promotional campaign offering customers who upgrade to True Move 3G a free mobile phone, valued at 1,390 baht, if they upgraded before Oct 31, 2013, saying they could continue using its new 3G service until the end of December.
The company promised that after Dec 31 it would send an SMS to subscribers informing them of their eligibility to get the phone and make an appointment to collect it.
Customers started to complain in January, when they received an SMS saying they would not get the free phone because they did not comply with the conditions.
Many of them argued, via the popular Pantip.com web board, that they actively used the number before Dec 31. Some said they asked the company’s call centre why they were denied the free phone and were told they did not top up the value, or use the internet, in November and December.
These customers say that the top-up and internet requirement was not a condition stated when they were asked to upgrade. Some said they negotiated with the company and several of them received compensation ranging from 300 baht to 1,000 baht.
True customers then got together to lodge a complaint with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).
NBTC commssioner Prawit Leesathapornwongsa said the commission will seek an explanation from True Move H.
The NBTC had the authority to consider this issue because the promise of a free mobile phone came with a service upgrade package, which was considered to be a telecommunications contract, he said.
“If there is proof that True changed the conditions, NBTC can order True to comply with its contract with its customers,” Mr Prawit said, adding that True Move executives will meet with the regulator next week.
True Move H, Thailand’s third largest mobile operator, has around 14 million customers who must migrate to its new service or services offered by competitors.