New site could take 20% off your phone bill

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New site could take 20% off your phone bill


When the ICT Ministry launched a website to let smartphone users see if they are eligible for a discount on their monthly phone bill on Jan. 5, it didn’t do much to publicize the move, keeping traffic relatively low.

But that all changed on Friday, when news of the site (http://www.checkimei.kr/) went unexpectedly viral via KakaoTalk, causing a surge of visitors that crashed it for hours over the weekend.

Customers who didn’t receive subsidies offered by major telecom companies or discount chains on new devices are eligible for a 20 percent discount on their monthly phone bill.

The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning announced the discount measure in 2014, following the implementation of Mobile Device Distribution Improvement Act, which capped the smartphone subsidies telecoms could offer customers at 330,000 won ($275).

Faced with the criticism over the act by consumers, who suddenly had to pay more for a new device, the ministry introduced the discount option.

But users often failed to get the discount because it wasn’t clear how to apply, a problem the site is intended to address.

Currently, the site is only available in Korean.

On the home page, the site asks whether the device is registered to an individual or company.

After choosing individual, customers are directed to a page with six columns.

In the column fourth from left, the customer inputs their International Mobile Equipment Identity or IMEI code. The number can be found by typing “*#06*#” into most Android phones. Those with an iPhone can find the number by going to “Settings,” followed by “General” and then “About.”

Customers who bought their smartphone before the distribution improvement act are eligible for the discount two years after the date of purchase.

The ministry expects more customers will choose the monthly discount over a subsidized device with the arrival of the website.

The number of subscribers benefiting from the discount totaled 4.7 million as of Jan. 17, a 9.7 percentage point increase compared to the same month last year, according to the ministry.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]

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