Telecommunications is one of the most lucrative businesses across the world. It is in this sector where the expression ‘time is money’ really counts as one pays for every second or minute they use their phone. There is no discussion: You pay, you talk. You do not have credit, you do not talk!
In an apparent bid to retain customers and woo new ones, almost all the network operators in the telecommunications industry are all the time engaged in one consumer promotion or another. To a greater extent, it would appear some operators are so obsessed with promotions to grow their subscriber base at the expense of providing quality service. The end result has been network congestion and high rate of dropped calls (mafoni omangoduka munthu asanathe kulankhula ngakhale muli ma units).
Personally, I have no problems with businesses maximising profits as long as they play by the rules and fair in every sense of the word.
Honesty is one of the marks of a good personality. In the same way, I would expect the corporate citizens that are companies such as phone network operators to be honest in dealing with their customers.
Once again, I will refer to one of the Lions Code of Ethics which states: “To remember that in building up my business, it is not necessary to tear down another’s; to be loyal to my clients or customers and true to myself.” I thought this code should apply in various endeavours of our daily lives. I feel the code promotes fair trading and competition, especially where it says: “To be loyal to my clients or customers and true to myself.”
But, is it fair trading when a network operator exorbitantly charges subscribers simply for opting out of a scheme created by itself? The other day, I complained, on behalf of some subscribers, the lack of seriousness by some operators as reflected through the “unsolicited” text messages they flood our handsets just because they have the privilege to have/know our phone numbers by virtue of being service providers.
I maintain that the fact that operators have our phone numbers should not be a warrant for them to torture us through bombarding our phones with “unsolicited” texts. Some operators attempted to give subscribers a choice to deactivate the intrusive SMSs, but this has been short-lived as the texts resurface faster than they disappear.
Recently, one of the network operators sent out chain messages to its subscribers, urging them to “join millions of Christians to pray and receive prayer guidelines and messages” from some pastor via SMS. The operator gave the subscribers the option to STOP receiving such messages by sending ‘STOP’ via text to the given number. Many subscribers I know sent STOP messages for which they were charged K30 each.
The same rate prevailed if one chose to SUBSCRIBE.
Now, imagine that this subscriber has two million subscribers and, for argument’s sake, all of them either subscribed or decided to stop receiving the “unsolicited” messages, the operator would make a cool K60 million from poor unsuspecting subscribers!
It is my prayer that the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra), the regulator of the network operators, is watching and will save customers from these exploitative tendencies by some operators. For fairness and transparency’s sake, I would expect the operators to tell customers the cost of whatever promotions they are sending them via SMSs so that consumers make informed decisions on whether to join. Time is money.
Happy Valentine’s Day.