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Subscribers agonise over persistent poor telecoms services

By Adeyemi Adepetun
10 July 2020   |   4:21 am
Poor state of telephony services in the country has continued to pitch subscribers against the operators.

Telephone users . PHOTO: PR STORE

•Experts call for network stress test
•NATCOMS seek free voice calls, data palliatives

Poor state of telephony services in the country has continued to pitch subscribers against the operators.

Complaints of network freezing while calls are on, faster depletion of data, inability to access bonus offers, drop calls and poor handling of subscribers by customer care agents have continued to rent the air in the last two months.
As a result, experts have urged the industry regulators to conduct a stress test for all the operating networks to ascertain their levels of integrity.

Although statistics from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) showed that the quartet of MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9Mobile recorded 2.47 per cent growth rate in quarter one (Q1) 2020, the rising drop in quality of service has continued to dwarf this performance.

With major complaints coming from MTN and Airtel subscribers, telephone users have, however, called on NCC to torchlight the operations of all the operators, and revisit the set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and where necessary, apply heavy sanctions.

Although some accolades have come the way of the operators for enabling remote workings during the lockdown, owing to the coronavirus pandemic, cases of faster data depletion remained a challenge to subscribers.

Lagos based, MTN subscriber, Ngozi Adiche, who spoke with The Guardian, decried the state of the services from the South African-owned telecommunications company.

Adiche said within almost six weeks, she has spent almost #50,000 on data. “We had to switch to online classes, since the children cannot go to school for now. We started with 3GB for N1,500, which ought to last for one month, but unfortunately, within two three days, it has finished. The same situation when we switched to 6GB for #2500, within a week, it had finished. It is not just sustainable! Something urgent must be done on this.”

To Tunde Babalola, a user of both MTN and Airtel networks, his complaint is that “immediately I load credit, especially on the Airtel network, they take my data. By the time I will check the credit balance, it has been depleted. I find this difficult to comprehend.”

Babalola said he had to send a mail to the Airtel Customer Care to complain, after several hours, this was what I got, “Thank you for contacting AIRTEL customer care. We empathize with you on this experience. Please provide the affected Airtel mobile number for better assistance. Apologies for the delayed response and all inconveniences regretted. Thank you for your continuous patronage on the AIRTEL network.”

According to him, “I am still waiting for their response.”

Another customer, Damilola Dada, said MTN data had been terrible lately with rising depletion of data. “We don’t get the data value for our money, but voice services are sometimes okay. One time a call was on, but the receiver couldn’t hear me. The person had called back because the network was fluctuating, and it has happened many times like that.”

Dada, who also complained of the inability to access bonus offers on the networks, added that Glo data in terms of volume is larger but it is only good at night. “I live in Ikorodu, but work at Ketu. The only time I have a good network in Ikorodu is at night. The speed in the Ketu area is okay during the day though. I think this network issue also has to do with location,” he added.

Speaking with The Guardian, a telecoms expert, Kehinde Aluko, said it is unfortunate that Nigerians have continued to experience poor service from the telcos despite spending between N2 trillion and N3 trillion yearly on airtime.

Aluko also said the industrial glitches have remained despite repeated sanctions by NCC to bring sanity to the sector, which is indicative of how deep the rot is.

He urged the telecoms regulator to conduct a stress test on the service providers to know why actually the problem has remained, despite claims of several huge investments on the path of the operators.

A senior MTN executive, who doesn’t want to be named, said the operator is working round the clock to ensure customers get value for their money. The official, who said MTN will not compromise anything to ensure services are better, said: “customers can monitor data usage on device data counters or MyMTNApp for daily usage analysis.”

Meanwhile, the National Chairman, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS), Deolu Ogunbanjo, has called on operators to provide subscribers with free voice calls, in addition to more data palliatives.

Ogunbanjo, who made the appeal, during a recent webinar organised by the NCC, said this is necessary to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which he said, had grounded global economies, and created so many challenges for telecoms subscribers across networks.

While commending some operators, which have made free SMS available to subscribers, Ogunbanjo said: “Telecoms subscribers in Nigeria are also looking forward to the telecommunications companies in Nigeria to give free voice calls and additional data palliatives to subscribers on their various networks.”

Furthermore, Ogunbanjo commended NCC for setting up the pace on the consumer rights to seek redress by providing the 6-2-2 toll-free line.

“The Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have also done the same by providing toll-free customer care lines. Unfortunately, this is not so for other companies operating in Nigeria.

“In other countries, we all know that companies do provide toll-free redress/complaint lines as one of the consumer’s rights to seek redress anytime. This redress/complaint toll-free line should be provided by all companies operating in Nigeria that are expecting some form of feedback/redress on their products and services, as this promotes consumer-centrism,” Ogunbanjo said.