Stop charging unsolicited callertunes

When the new Nigeria Minister for Communications, Adebayo Shittu resumed office a few months ago, there were loads of promise, the last on the list was what really concerned lay person on the road:

“I promise that Nigerians will get value for every kobo they spend on telecommunication services.”

Has he delivered? One of the biggest scam that I have seen going on in Nigeria in the last few years was unsolicited callertunes. Not too surprising that the most ripped off people in this were the very poor people who rely solely on cheap scratch cards to make calls.

The other day I called a few friends on both MTN and Globacom each one has a callertunes something that goes ‘Orisa bi iya k’osi’ (in honour of Mother’s Day) – even those who are not previously on callertunes all have one imposed on them.

I know that MTN is Nigeria No1 foreign company enemy at the moment as they owe us tax, this is a different issues that cut across board with all mobile telephone providers in Nigeria with the exception of Etisalat.

This is how this unsolicited callertunes work for these two major mobile telephone  companies:

Most Nigerians today rely on scratch cards to make calls – prepaid. Those who can afford post paid or monthly package are in the minority.

Those who are mostly affected by callertunes are the prepaid folks. Say Mama Eleja loaded ₦200 in a month to make calls.

From that ₦200 MTN deducts ₦50 monthly for callertunes charge.

If it was Globacom, they deduct ₦20/week = ₦80 monthly – This one is for those who preach ‘buy local’, what is the benefit for the masses?

If Mama Eleja does not want callertunes, she will have to go to MTN or Glo offices to take it off her SIM or follow on-screen instructions (goodluck if she can’t read) or call their offices.

If Mama Eleja was too busy or has no knowledge of how to go about the issue of taking callertunes off her phone and at the end of the month still has credit of ₦80 on her account. MTN or Glo would gladly take yet another ₦50/month or ₦20 per week from the woman’s credit for the service she neither needed nor asked for.

These companies will continue for as long as there is credit in the account.

How is this fair on the same people we gladly call ‘poor’? Why continuing to knock those who are already down?

The only mobile company that I know of that do not automatically impose callertunes on people’s phone is Etisalat – I know this as my sister uses them.

And by the way Etisalat is partly foreign company too.

If Etisalat can do what is fair and only give callertunes if requested, how hard is it for the likes of MTN and Glo to adopt the same principle?

This is why we have Minister of Communications to be on the side of people and speak on their behalf and to be constantly checking and be sure people get the best deal.

My question for Mr Adebayo Shittu is what is he doing to make sure telecommunication companies have the consent of people before adding chargeable services to their phones?