ByÂ Charles Mgbolu
The rising spate of network congestion among telecom operators is taking itâ€™s toll on the petty recharge card sellers on the street.
The recharge sellers who usually operate call centre businesses now have become punching bags to stubborn customers who hardly hear any explanation when the recharge cards they purchased could not load.
However the irony of the whole case is that most of these cards would be scratched off seals in the presence of the customers and the tendency to load minutes or hours later after refusing to load is there.
The arguments becomes who pays for the cards that did not load and who looses for the ones that would load hours later.
For Instance, in Aguda, Surulere, eye witness accounts narrated how a young girl or if was allegedly beaten black and blue by a young man of about 31 over arguments of a recharge card that refused to load. Titi Ogunjobi the alleged victim told this reporter that the card had been scratched in the mans presence and so the problem had been from the mobile telecom company and not from her. When she refused to refund his money, the man allegedly descended on her.
Another recharge card seller, a twelve year old boy, Solomon Saliu on a similar incident narrates that a one thousand five hundred naira recharge card had refused to load, the man thus had refused to pay. But Solomon knew that this was a general trend and his customers line will surely to be credited at a later time so he insisted that the man must pay before leaving. When this man ignored him and attempted to walk away, Solomon grabbed him by his trouser pockets and he (Solomon) got the beating of his life in return.
Meanwhile, Vanguard learnt that this is gradually growing and alarming story. In a random survey, of about forty sampled call centres in lagos metropolice, twenty three of them had owners who had been physically harassed at one time or the other by angry customers as a result of recharge cards that refused to load or had already been loaded by someone else even when the silver coatings that hid the pin numbers were still been intact.
When a customer care line of one of these mobile telecom operators was called about this, the voice; a male, had simply said: â€œweâ€™re really sorry about thisâ€
In the case of Shola Akanni, a recharge card seller who is a female graduate of sociology, a passing military officer had saved her from being beaten up. According to her â€œthe man had accused me of selling an already used card and i denied it. But the situation worsened when we couldnâ€™t get across to the networkâ€™s customer care centre due to network congestionsâ€. She continues â€œ He began shouting and abusing me. He threw away my table and chairs and threatened to beat me up. It was the passing military man that stopped himâ€
Obinna Nwosu is a young man who had once been selling recharge cards but the fights with angry customers had forced him to stop. He narrates â€œi used to own a small call centre booth close to Pako Market here in Aguda. It was mostly frequented by these bus-stop touts.
But when i started getting into fights with them almost on a daily basis most of the time with my shirt torn to pieces or me sustaining serious injuries over recharge cards that had refused to load, i decided to stop and look for another business to doâ€
Shola Akanni, the sociologistÂ is pointing accusing fingers at hackers. In her opinion the â€œfraud starsâ€Â mysteriously get on to online stores of these recharge cards and load exposed unscratched cards.