By Tare Youdeowei
Few weeks to the yuletide, it was like a premeditated action, all the telecommunications operators began to render below par services. Subscribers who needed to effectively communicate to friends, families and loved ones were at the receiving end of the bad services as phones froze, most calls dropped and lines arbitrarily went off network.
Those who traveled to their respective home towns to celebrate Xmas and New Year could hardly maintain unbroken communication with their bases because of poor quality of services.
Subscribers who spoke from different parts of the country have one issue or the other to complain about. Some of them also complained about some other poor products and services they had to bitterly endure through the year.
A furious Oliver Paty, a building contractor from Badagry, Lagos, was the first to express dismay at the level of poor telecom services during the yuletide.
“I am deeply frustrated. I have four sites that I manage in Lagos alone and I coordinate the workers through my mobile phones. However, since the Xmas eve till now, I can hardly complete a call despite having three lines from different operators. I don’t think I have heard any of the operators announcing service disruptions of any kind, so why is it that all the operators are giving poor services at the same time?
Why is it that during festive season, everything from fuel to food stuff and now telecom services, go bunkers? I think there should be concerted efforts by authorities to take proactive actions to forestall this in the future.”
Also Miss Nkiru Eze, a staff of an online e-commerce platform who travelled to her home town Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, said: “Glo says they are the grandmasters of data but throughout the festive season I could not browse fluidly. Photos I was trying to upload kept hanging, I was simply disappointed. All the videos and selfies with my cousins and relatives are just going online when it was supposed to be real time. It was not funny at all. The plenty bonuses are not useable because of bad network” she alleged.
MTN’s Yellow Box
Meanwhile, some others who spoke to Hi-Tech complained about some products advertised by the operators which allegedly did not meet the standard as advertised. Mr Joseph Donghan who lives in Ojo, Lagos State, said: “I started hearing about the MTN Yellow Box early last year then the price came down middle of the year, in August I rushed to get one. Then the problems started immediately the initial subscription expired. First they took the money for the next subscription but didn’t put on the box. Customer care calls back and forth for two weeks ended with them saying they had forwarded the complain to the technical unit who sent a text that they will come to fix it in another two weeks.
“Eventually, my daughter called them and threatened to notify the Nigerian Communications Commission if they didn’t resolve the issue. They immediately handed her call to their supervisor who put on the box and refunded lost days on the subscription. A few days to the end of the cycle the box refused to charge. Another round of calls resulted in a change of the box and repositioning of the panel after almost two weeks of waiting. The technician MTN sent, in a process of apologising, unwittingly disclosed that he had changed at least four boxes that day.
“Apparently, MTN had not perfected the system before sending it out. At least they were good enough to admit their flaws by changing the faulty boxes. The new box has not given any problems since then.”
Airtel’s Overjara Back to Sender
Philip Osun in Lugbe, Abuja: “I rushed to get an Airtel SIM when Overjara Back to Sender package was announced. However, I loaded the account with N500 and true to their word, I enjoyed 8 times my recharge, data bonus and credit return at the end of the month. By the next week when I recharged they started taking my main credit for calls instead of the bonus.
I called customer care to complain and they said if I do not cut the call after the first minute my main credit will be cut. I told the lady that this did not happen in the past month and asked why it started suddenly. The lady did not have a tangible answer, eventually. I concluded they were not sincere about the package and stopped loading the SIM. In other climes, no operator should try this, else it gets heavily sanctioned” he said
Chigozie Amadi, lives in Elele, Rivers State; “I was using a 3G phone and the network symbol was always ‘H’ never 3G. I wanted to use 4G because I was sure it would give me faster internet, so I got a 4G phone in March. I was using MTN for internet so they notified me that I need to do a sim swap to get 4G, after calling customer care to complain. I was shocked. I tried my 9mobile, and it was instant upgrade. Why should I do a sim swap to get 4G? The sad part is that 4G is expensive on 9mobile but I am stuck because I enjoy the speed.
“MTN compounded the matter by stopping the 3.5GB data bonus they were giving me for buying 3.5GB data for N2, 000, and replaced with YouTube streaming between 1am and 5am. It is not just them, it is like a gang up, all the telcos are doing it.
I do not think they thought it through, how many of their customers with real, regular purchasing power will be online at that time? Only youths that depend on workers to get money can be awake by that time. What reward is there for workers who have to sleep by that time and have buying power and buy data regularly?” he demanded
However, it was not all condemnations. Emeka Eyo in Oron, Akwa Ibom State, said; “I called my Mum on her MTN line using my Glo line on New Year’s Day and it went through without hitches. If the networks were having problems, probably it had to do with locations. I don’t want to also rule out that there some part of this town where making or receiving calls could be problematic”
Also, Paul Ekene, Agbor, Delta State said; “MTN is my preferred network for calls all year round and they did not disappoint during the festive season. I do not load more than N1,500 credit a week and they do not deduct my money indiscriminately.”
However, our efforts to get reactions from the parent body of the telecom operators, the Association of Licensed Telecoms Companies of Nigeria, ALTCON, proved abortive as the chairman’s lines were not going through.