We do not exploit our customers – MTC

Mobile telecommunications company, MTC, has denied that it has been exploiting its customers and is seeking clarification on a principle recently introduced by the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) to regulate post-paid contract rates.

It is important to point out that MTC assures all Namibians that it does not exploit consumers, read a statement sent out on Tuesday night by the country's first mobile telephone operator, Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC).

The statement was in response to an article in New Era on Tuesday, under the headline CRAN slaps MTC on wrists for consumer exploitation. The article implies that CRAN (Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia) sought only to regulate MTC. MTC has written to CRAN to ask whether the ruling applies to the industry as a whole or whether it applies only to MTC. MTC believes that the principle underlying the CRAN ruling is applicable to the entire industry. MTC will inform its customers of CRAN's response, which is expected within the next 10 days, read the statement.

CRAN recently censured MTC over the manner in which it charges post-paid contract consumers after a complaint by an MTC customer, who realised that the standard subscription service agreement with MTC has a provision that allows the company to continue renewing the contract and charge subscription fees, plus costs of a new cellphone for an indefinite period. CRAN ruled in favour of the customer, Tironnen Kauluma, and in its ruling asked MTC to change its post-paid contract wording to ensure that consumers who had not renewed their contracts are not charged exorbitant amounts of money for services they do not get.

Currently, when customers sign up for MTC post-paid package, which includes a cellphone, they are made to sign a contract that allows MTC to deduct monthly subscription fees, which also include the cost of the cellphone, for a period of 24 months. However, at the end of the 24 months, the consumers are given an option to renew their subscription. However, if they do not do so, MTC would automatically renew the contract for another period during which the consumer would continue to pay the subscription fees, and the cost of a new cellphone, even though no new cellphone is issued. The contested contract wording, which CRAN found to be exploiting consumers, reads: Agreement shall commence on the commencement date and shall endure for the contract period, subject to the provisions of Section 12. Where after, it shall continue indefinitely unless substituted by another subscriber service agreement in respect of the services or terminated by either party giving to the other not less than 30 (thirty) days written notice of termination CRAN found that such a clause obliges consumers to continue paying the subscription fee after the contract is renewed for an indefinite period without the consumer having received a new handset even though the subsidised portion of the price of the handset is included in the subscription fee.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia