Subscribers upbraid Nigeria's telcos
By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria
Mobile subscribers who attended the first National Telecoms Subscriber Summit organised by the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS) in Lagos, took service providers to task over low quality of services, an ‘exploitative’ tariff regime, poor service at call centres and fraudulent practices in the lotteries they engage in masquerading as promos.
The subscribers questioned telecoms operators, the regulator and government agencies responsible for the protection of consumer rights in the country on issues bothering on poor service quality, shabby treatments received while engaging customer care lines, and indiscriminate tariff charges across networks.
Subscribers like Ademola Okubule, Susan Johnson, Olawore Samson Olaleye and others who spoke frowned upon the services of network service providers in several areas of their operations, and equally commended some operators in other areas of their operations.
They complained of difficulties encountered whenever they tried reaching out to MTN customer care line, but commended Airtel for the ease of getting through to its customer care line, with just few dials. MTN was commended for its varieties of promos and bonuses, but its policy whereby bonus airtime was restricted to calls on net, was faulted by the subscribers. While Etisalat was commended for its innovative value added services, it received knocks for its inability to spread to remote parts of the country. Globacom was commended for its introduction of per second billing, but was upbraided for disparity in its tariff plans.
In all, consumers blamed operators for poor service quality, which they said, was already affecting them. They called on operators to come up with lasting solution to the continuous drop in service quality across networks.
Responding to consumers’ reactions, the Director, Public Affairs of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Tony Ojobo, said he was pleased with the various reactions that emanated from the summit, which he said was a testimony to the fact that Nigerians fully know their rights as consumers.
Ojobo, who represented the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah, called on telecoms service providers to address the issues raised by subscribers.
General Manager, Regulatory Affairs at MTN, Oyeronke Oyetunde said the telco has invested heavily in network expansion adding that the company was still investing in order to provide best service quality to consumers. She explained that MTN had reduced tariffs through its various value added services that are ongoing. Explaining some of the challenges of MTN, Oyetunde said “MTN suffers over 70 fibre cuts every month which affects smooth network operations.”
While dispelling insinuations of rude response by customer care agents, she did not rule out the fact that agents do not pick calls, explaining that some of the calls put to the call centres could be provocative because of their frivolities. She said some people will just call to say “I just want to hear your voice” adding that MTN spends heavily on training customer care agents.
A representative of Airtel, Ademola Folarin, said the operator spends over N400 million on its customer care centres every month, and promised that it would continue to invest in customer care in order to provide the best of service. Globacom and Etisalat pledged to improve on their service offerings to customers.