The service is no longer free.
My phone and internet service provider in the Philippines is Smart (Communications). I have been using their prepaid mobile phone service for the last 10 years or so. I am generally pleased with Smart, so much so that two years ago I also began subscribing to their internet broadband service, Smart Bro.
Why prepaid? Because it is, for the most part, hassle-free. No monthly bills. All you need to do is get a Smart Money (debit card), link that to your bank account, in my case, Bank of the Philippine Islands, and you can load credits to your phone via Smart Money. It is a smart way to control how much you spend on your phone and internet bills. You only load what you need.
And the service is free. In fact, when they first introduced the product, you get 5% bonus credits whenever you reload using Smart Money. That is, until recently. And when did the free service end? I am not even sure. I just found out this morning when I noticed my credits being lost to phantom charges. I called their help service (dial *888) to inquire about the lost credits, and it was only then that I found out that Smart is now charging 2.50 Php per Smart Money transaction.
Ok then. Smart Money is a pretty convenient service, I am giving them that. Even if they start charging 2.50 Php per transaction, I still say it is worth it. But that said, I still I do not appreciate the fact that a multi-billion peso company would start charging an erstwhile FREE SERVICE without the decency of informing their customers beforehand.
I am writing this down, posting it on the internet, in the hope of letting others know. Because Smart is certainly keeping it a secret.