Consumer extortion or Callertunes?

The first time I heard ‘ilekun ayo mi ti si…’ (the door of my joy is open..) while calling my sister instead of a normal ring tone, I thought she had ‘upped’ her game in the religion department. So now callers are entertained with upbeat christian tunes while they wait – not bad.

This was a couple of years ago. She didn’t really mind the callertunes but she would have preferred to be the one who asked for it.

I was happy it was only my MTN contacts that had this callertunes as it gets really boring, every other phone has random songs on them. Before long all of the major phone providers joined the game.

I found this a bit unsettling as the service was imposed on people without them asking for it and were charged 50naira/month for the service. This is chicken change if one had requested for it, but it is robbing the poor when they have no say and they have to get out of their way to remove the service only for it to be put back when the next month comes by.

One time MTN was doing another shuffling, so they put a muslim call out for prayer tune on my sister’s phone – that was the first time she thought of really visiting MTN office to lodge a complaint, she would love the tune to be removed and also made it clear she didn’t want the service – that lasted a month, now it’s back on.

People should not have to be charged without their consent in the first place especially for services they neither needed nor of any benefit to them.

Sometimes I wonder, why is it that the poor masses are always the easy target to prey on?

I have had the same MTN number for going to 10years now,  I used to use it often so on their bundles, so now, even if I didn’t use it for months, I rarely have issues with them – they don’t put callertunes on my phone.

Once I had to make a call so to stop all unsolicited text messages to my phone, their customer services were helpful and they granted what I wanted.

A handful of my friends too didn’t have this callertunes put on their phones.

Is this customer profiling? How do they do this, isolating people who could kick up fuss and only extort people who don’t have neither voice nor money?

My parents are both on MTN and now on the annoying callertunes too, neither wanted it. My father had once complained to their custom service that he would like the callertunes be removed, they did – now it’s back on. Taking 50naira/month from him and millions of other Nigerians without their consent.

Looking through my mother’s phone, loads of pop culture messages, sometimes she jumped up thinking she heard her phone ringing but often times, it’s another unsolicited messages – it is insane this is allowed.

I must say that mobile phone has transformed our society in a massive way and I am grateful for this but I do think businesses need checks and balances and customers’ interests need to be considered too.

As it stands individual complaints has not yielded desired result.

So I wonder, whose job is it to protect customers’ interests in the case of mass extortion such as this?

We do have Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson – is this what she can help with given the scale of the issue?