Telecom companies deny hiking airtime card costs

Wednesday November 8 2017

Used airtime cards from different

Used airtime cards from different telecommunication providers. The providers say retailers charging extra fees on airtime are doing so illegally. PHOTO BY MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI 


Kampala. Mobile phone operators have issued warning alerts to customers not to pay extra fees than the face value stated on the scratch cards.
This comes after wide spread outcry and complaints by customers that the price of airtime scratch cards had been increased.
Customers are now being asked by some retailers to pay between Shs200 and Shs500 more than the price printed on scratch cards.
Responding to the complaints, MTN senior manager corporate affairs Justina Ntabgoba-Kayemba said: “We have not increased prices of our airtime and if a retailer asks you to pay extra money, please walk away and use other sources where you will not be cheated.”
In a statement titled: “Holding Statement: Illegal pricing of MTN airtime cards”, released in Kampala yesterday, MTN said: “…we inform our customers and the public that MTN has not increased its airtime prices. Those who sell airtime at over charged prices do so illegally.”
The operator has then advised its customers to load airtime using MTN Mobile Money or ask the agent to load for them airtime using EasyLoad.
“Customers, who load airtime using MTN Mobile Money or EasyLoad, get an instant 30 per cent bonus on the value of the airtime they buy. It’s also free to deposit money or buy airtime (for yourself or another customer) using MTN Mobile Money,” the notice reads in part.
Similarly, Airtel Uganda issued a notice saying: “All customers should note that the price paid for airtime should be the face value of airtime.”

Mr Henry Kimera, the executive secretary at the Consumer Education Trust, a consumer protection organisation in Kampala, said in a survey they have carried out, airtime pricing issues have mainly affected people from upcountry.
“Retailers are saying that they trek long distances to go and purchase the recharge cards yet this is not incorporated in their commissions. They find it hard to sell the scratch cards at price on the scratch cards. This is why they transfer the cost to the customer,” Mr Kimera said.
He added that they have presented this complaint to Uganda Communications Commission and have also asked operators to increase their presence in the remote areas to take their services nearer the people.
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