crime

Saitama man arrested after calling telecom provider 24,000 times to complain

21 Comments
By SoraNews24

Japan is currently at a sort of social crossroads, with a rapidly aging population dealing with rapidly advancing technology such as the widespread use of smartphones. It’s been reported that some phone dealers are mulling service charges for visitors due to an influx of elderly customers hanging around and seeking advice from clerks on unrelated matters such as asking how to join Netflix or send an email.

While its easy to sympathize with the seniors who must adapt to these new devices late in life, there’s also a heavy burden on the front-line customer service staff of associated companies. For example, just imagine if the same guy called you 59 times a day to complain about his phone.

That’s just what happened to the staff working at telecom giant KDDI‘s toll-free customer service hotline last month. Police arrested and are currently investigating 71-year-old Akitoshi Okamoto of Kasukabe, Saitama Prefecture, on charges that he called KDDI 411 times during a single week last month with complaints such as “Come and apologize for violating our contract and for unfair business practices!”

The company was initially hesitant to press criminal charges against its own customer, but the repeated complaints were interfering with the call center’s ability to assist other customers and had been taking a mental toll on staff. So, after consultation with police, an arrest was made.

The investigation is still ongoing, but KDDI’s own logs revealed that Okamoto had called them roughly 24,000 times over the past two years, working out to an average of 33 times a day if he had called for 730 consecutive days.

According to police, the suspect was upset that his phone was not able to pick up radio broadcasts. Okamoto denies the charges, telling police “I am the victim.”

Most online tend to disagree with his assessment, but some netizens felt KDDI should have done more to prevent this situation from escalating as it had.

“Telecom companies are getting more and more monster complainers it seems.”

“He probably believes that because he’s the victim, it gives him the right to act horribly to other people.”

“Clearly this man has too much time on his hands.”

“If the telecom company bothered the man it should apologize appropriately, but now it has to press harassment charges.”

“Without knowing the full problem it’s hard to say who’s wrong, but it really seems like he has too much free time.”

“Seems like they should have reported him sooner.”

“If you work in customer service for a while your soul will get crushed. Old people are the worst, but younger people are sensible.”

“Because of idiots like this, now I’m paranoid that whenever I call customer service, they’ll treat me like a maniac.”

“I think calling 10 times ought to be enough for an arrest.”

Pending the results of the investigation, Okamoto may face obstruction of business charges.

“Obstruction of business” is a convenient Japanese criminal definition that makes it illegal to interfere with someone’s ability to do regular business, and can cover a wide range of unconventional crimes such as stabbing oneself to get out of work or paying for beef bowls with blood-soaked money.

And assuming anything beyond two complaint attempts is a waste of time for both parties, 23,998 phone calls is a whole lot of obstructed business. Let’s hope Okamoto’s punishment, if needed, is to attend some sort of IT training seminar to help him along in these changing times.

Source: NHK News Web, TV Asahi News, Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

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© SoraNews24

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

21 Comments
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I have no sympathy at all for these telecommunication companies. They prey on the elderly by signing them up for services that they obviously don’t need.

It took us weeks of complaining to finally cancel many services that My father in law was paying for, & he had no idea what any of them were.

Keep calling these vultures I say

9 ( +12 / -3 )

I get rid of kddi few months ago for Ymobile (softbank) hear this... i know it's not new.

My iphone was fully paid after 2 years contract with 'em. But i was going to pay the same bill 9500 yens per month for 7 gigas data (they call it unlimited lol) i moved to Ymobile 3 months before my contract end of course. Not only i pay around 3500 yens for the same data, they gave me money back + cancellation fee of KDDI.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

It’s been reported that some phone dealers are mulling service charges for visitors due to an influx of elderly customers hanging around and seeking advice from clerks on unrelated matters such as asking how to join Netflix or send an email.

This operator just want to take their subscription fee without doing their service but that's not the case for elderly. In the past when these elderly bought TV it's only just an easy push from one channel to another channel. That's not the case for smartphone and internet.

I get rid of kddi few months ago for Ymobile (softbank) hear this... i know it's not new.

Register beside major Japanese telco big brand never cross to these elder's mind at all.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

violating our contract and for unfair business practices

That sounds pretty normal to me. Dealing with these pirates is difficult, but wait until you try to cancel your contract with them. The mystery charges start coming out of the woodwork. There was a law passed late last year to stop these pirates charging contract cancellation fees. I went to cancel my iPhone and iPad contract two weeks ago and these pirates slapped a ¥10,000 cancellation fee on each one. I dug through the news articles and found the article about it being illegal to charge cancelation fees. You should have seen the teeth sucking from the staff. These pirates were gonna rip me off ¥20,000 thinking I was just a dumb gaijin. It was then I started abusing them and calling them thieves. I got the attention of the branch manager and started abusing him too. He just apologised and blamed the staff member for not knowing about it, which is utter BS. These Telcos are criminal organisations!

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Cancellation fees are always explained at the point of purchase. Yeah they suck and the new law should fix things, but kicking up a fuss because you didn’t know about them is futile IMO.

Either way, this guy isn’t complaining about cancellation fees. Did he say he wanted radio when he bought the phone? If not then he’s in the wrong, if he did and was mid-sold the phone, the he is right to complain, but not in this way. I’ve worked in a call-center in Japan and in my experience elderly people complaining over comparatively minor things is a soul-crushing experience, and I’ve seen staff driven to tears on more than one occasion.

Think what you want about the company, but don’t treat the staff like they’re not human. If you’re not happy with how a complaint is handled there are third party conflict resolution agencies that can help.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

elderly people complaining over comparatively minor things

I meant to say even comparatively minor things.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Radio apps including NHK are available but some need a subscription like other steaming services. They could make genius bars and charge a fee for a visit. They could organise training sessions to teach people how to protect themselves over the internet.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If you have a call service, you answer and provide the service! And you shut up!

If you have an issue like this, you call the guy to the office and solve the situation face to face. Nobody has to apologize to anybody. If the owner of the phone is unsatisfied with the service, the company cancel his contract and he goes to another company. A phone company that calls the police because one of their customers calls too many time, is weird and unethical. Complain is legitimate. If they have problems with the call center, they should increase the employee. What if 59 different people called the center all at once that day to complain about a broken line or service? Did they call the police for that? Said that, I find ridiculous that many people in Japan waste their life to obtain excuses for any sort of petit lack of service (described or not in the contract). Just like the excuse would make up for the damage. Very childish.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@Isthiezak - Cancellation fees are always explained at the point of purchase. Yeah they suck and the new law should fix things, but kicking up a fuss because you didn’t know about them is futile IMO.

What are talking about? I knew about the new law, but these pirates were going to charge me the cancellation fees. That's what I kicked up a fuss about. They are criminals who take great pride in ripping people off!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Most of the older people I know don't really know how to use their smartphones to the full extend. I'm always trying to show them how to do more.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Disillusioned,

“There was a law passed late last year to stop these pirates charging contract cancellation fees.”

Not correct. In June of this year the news was saying the government was considering new regulations to cap the fees at ¥1,000. More recent news says the new regulation came into effect in Oct of this year. I haven’t seen any news saying that it was retrospective and applied to previously signed contracts.  If someone has a link to such I’d like to see it. 

“these pirates slapped a ¥10,000 cancellation fee on each one.”

Which would have been their right to do so under the contracts you signed if the new regulations are not retroactive. 

“I dug through the news articles and found the article about it being illegal to charge cancelation fees.”

Which article would that be? I’d like to read it as your description of it conflicts with what I’ve read. 

“It was then I started abusing them and calling them thieves.”

You are lucky they didn’t call the police.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

I’ve been seeing advertisements for free workshops organized by a major phone company to teach elderly people how to use smart phones. They are even open to people with contracts with other carriers. I imagine they’ll also be handing out promotional materials in hopes of getting those people to switch to them but I thought it was nice.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Charge them 100 yen a call for creating a nuisance.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

They couldn't figure out how to block is calls?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

*his

0 ( +0 / -0 )

having worked in a similar enviroment and callers asking the same trivial question over and over, just to harass, I totally agree that this Dbag should of been arrested. I actually had a caller who would try and set me up, if I didnt respond in a happy voice or some other harrassing technique, they would complain to the supervisor.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

these pirates were going to charge me the cancellation fees.

Cancellation fees should have been explained to you before you signed the contract, which I imagine was before the new law came into effect.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Educator60 - Not correct. In June of this year the news was saying the government was considering new regulations to cap the fees at ¥1,000. More recent news says the new regulation came into effect in Oct of this year. 

It is illegal to charge cancellations fees. This was changed in September. It was changed to allow fairer competition between Telcos. If I was to listen to your advice, I would have had to pay an extra ¥20,000. Can you read Japanese news? The removal of contract cancellation fees applies to phones and tablets only. It does not apply to Wifi devices or ethernet services.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Disillusioned,

“It is illegal to charge cancellations fees. This was changed in September.”

Again, everything I’ve read said there is now a limit of ¥1,000 yen for cancellation and it came into effect Oct 1. I won’t bother quoting from English language articles but there are plenty out there.

Here are two relevant quotes in Japanese:

解約違約金の上限1000円規制 2019年10月1日から施行される改正電気通信事業法により、「通信と端末の完全分離」ならびに「不当な囲い込み禁止」が導入される。とりわけ、これまで1万円弱に設定されていた解約違約金に1000円までの上限が課されることで....

“If I was to listen to your advice, I would have had to pay an extra ¥20,000.”

I never gave you any advice. I would love to be proved wrong and learn that the new regulations are retroactive and make all cancellations free.

Note that when the regulation came into effect, and when the carriers announced the details of their new plans, and when those plans went into effect are not one and the same.

Here’s another bit in Japanese, which indicates the new ¥1,000 fees (or in Softbank case, no fee) apply to new contracts. Again, I’d love to see your proof that it applies retroactively.

(Punctuation/line breaks edited for brevity)

ドコモ  対象: 10/1以降に「ギガホ」「ギガライト」「ケータイプラン」を契約したユーザー。違約金:

2年定期契約満了月の当月・翌月・翌々月以外での解約は1,000円。

au 違約金: 2年定期契約満了月の当月・翌月・翌々月以外での解約は1,000円。

ソフトバンク. 対象: 9/13以降に申し込みをしたユーザー。違約金: なし

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Still hoping we’ll be provided a link that proved me wrong. Maybe I shouldn’t hold my breath....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As he appears to be either unwilling or unable to back up his claims, I’d recommend anyone to take Disillusioned’s assertions on this topic with a huge grain of salt. I suspect the phone shop in the end let him get away with not paying the cancellation fees, not because he was correct in what he was stating, but because of his belligerent attitude, in his own words, abuse of the staff.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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