Thank You, Ursula; It Is About Time…But
It was such a great relief, to read about the new directive from the Minister of Communication to all mobile network operators that “All unused data and voice bundles purchased by subscribers do not expire and must be rolled over with the next recharge.” This was included in an instruction to the MNOs to relieve burden off the consumer.
To be honest, AirTel/Tigo must be commended for becoming a pace setter in this area, since no credit purchased or bundles made ever expire. This MNO does it so transparently and operates as a customer friendly company with even health insurance, among others for its customers.
When one takes a look at packages provided by the MNOs, specifically referring to MTN and Vodafone, one will wonder where they could raise so much money to be able to operate such packages. In view of this, why will they pass on to their customers, legitimate taxes they have to pay to the state to roll out projects, especially those which alleviate poverty? In 2007 when the “Talk Tax” was first introduced the opposition NDC bashed government and went on to talk for and support the MNOs in a bid to reverse it, calling the tax “gagging of freedom of speech.” Yet, during its eight years in power, the NDC could not abolish it. This year when government increased the “talk tax” the NDC has expressed dismay again.
That most of the MNOs are reaping more from consumers than they sow is very evident in their packages. For example, if one purchases and bundles data worth GHc3.00 on an MTN account. This MNO will allocate to the customer 500 MB on 3 G and 750 MB on 4 G for 24 hours. Assuming they use only GHc2.00 worth, the remaining GHc1.00 will be absolved by the company upon expiry. And again, assuming you are among six million subscribers who have GHc1.00 worth of data leftover every day, then MTN makes GHc6 million (over $1.0 million) a day from this transaction alone; and it can be assumed that no tax is paid on it.
On the other hand, if there is no expiry date, no one will like to rush through to use up data and some money will be in the MNOs accounts that will yield good returns. I bundled 2 GB on three different occasions on my AirTel/Tigo from as far back as three months ago. Anytime I check my balance, I am given three different balances. AirTel/Tigo can be trading with my money until I use it up.
The minister’s directives is the best for the consumer and she must be supported and appreciated by all, even as this is already been practiced by AirTel/Tigo long before this instruction. The question is, if the MNOs are making huge returns, why should they pass on their tax obligations to the consumer? This is just not fair.
I wish to draw the minister’s attention to some unfair treatment meted on to customers of MTN. It is in the area of IDD bundling. MTN allows bundling to all lines in some selected countries, which means calls bundled can be made to both mobile and fixed line. However in the case of the United Kingdom, bundled IDD is for fixed lines only and this is a problem. Today, most people in the UK use their landlines for internet and hardly use them to make calls. The MNOs in UK have so much attractive packages for their customers which include getting into contracts with them to provide mobile phones for them. It looks cheaper using mobile phones for calls there and in this day and age mobile phones are very popular and one can be reached anywhere and anytime.
So what informed the mind of MTN to pick out UK and put its IDD bundling on fixed lines only? In this event, one may not be conscious of what is actually happening because as soon as IDD is bundled and calls are made to UK mobile lines, MTN will start deducting from the customer’s credit account without he or she realising what is going on.
So a customer may bundle GHc5.00 package which will give them 70 minutes of talk time for seven days. When a call is placed through to a mobile line in the UK the bundle will stay intact while the main credit account will be used to pay for that talk time. So soon airtime credit runs out and there has to be a topping up and after seven days that GHc5.00 is absolved into the system because it has expired. MTN has cleverly taken customer’s money and charged them on the call they made through their credit account.
Since majority of calls to the UK are on mobile to mobile, MTN is in effect not offering bundled facilities on IDD to the UK, as it has expressly stated so.
These and others are what I will be very grateful if the minister comes in and makes this MTN do the right thing.
“Minister Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, well done and thanks so, so much. Your directive should be followed by all others in positions of authority fighting for the consumer and making sure that they receive nothing but fairness when dealing with the producers in all manner of transactions and interaction. God richly bless you.”
Hon. Daniel Dugan