MTN Uganda has rebated all lost credit to all its data users due to multiple bundle loading following the recent incidents/ complaints in which customers accounts had multiple deductions or lost airtime as a result. In reality MTN did not take away money but due to system logic failure, customers were allowed to log more than one request and once the system normalized, they were credited multiple bundles which in some cases depleted their airtime wallets, as a business we find it unfair to retain the earnings in error hence the rebate.
In a Press Conference held on Tuesday 18th November 2014, MTN CEO Brian Gouldie informed members of the media that following several upgrades on the system dating back to June of this year, there have been a number incidents that led to intermittent system performance of our data services. This led to MTN customers experiencing either multiple bundle activations, failed but charged activations or delayed bundle activations.
In a follow-up press conference on Wednesday December 3rd 2014 held at the company’s newly refurbished Business Centre at Nyonyi Gardens, Mr. Gouldie reported that MTN has proactively rebated all affected customers to a tune of Ushs. 778,102,469 of lost airtime. He added that MTN will continue to identify, verify and refund all other similar issues on a case by case basis. In addition to the rebates, MTN has gone further and given data bundles to customers who might have been affected by the intermittent occurrences on MTN’s data services. 281,084 MTN data customers have also received various bundle sizes of MTN’s Mobile Internet bundle types (daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly), to the tune of Ushs. 213,729,050. Combined we have rebated approximately one billion shillings (shs. I Billion) worth of data bundles and airtime.
According to Gouldie, between 30th June and 16th October 2014, 203, 798 incidents were reported and another 156,803 were identified for the period Oct 17th to Nov. 17th bringing the total number of complaints to 360,893 all of which have been verified and rebated. The affected customers represent approximately 10% of MTN’s total data subscriber base now standing in excess of 3.4 million.
Mr. Gouldie further commented that, “MTN has put in place measures to prioritize all data related complaints by attending to related incidents with the highest priority. We acknowledge that in world that is now very dependent on the Internet for new and day to day living, it’s extremely important that service interruptions are avoided as much as possible”. MTN has in addition committed more resources to fast track the resolution of data complaints. A new twitter handle, www.twitter.com/MTNUgcare has been commissioned to solely focus on resolving customer related queries. All other customer contact points including the 126 toll free data helpline, the Facebook page www.facebook.com/MTNUg and our 16 walk in service centres spread across Uganda, 9 of which are in Kampala alone will continue to prioritize all data complaints and provide timely resolutions. “At MTN, we value the trust the customers have put in our products and services and will stop at nothing to ensure that trust is never betrayed”, Gouldie said.
Gouldie told journalists that despite the temporary challenges that the brand has experienced with its mobile data solution, MTN remains committed to pioneering tailored solutions that address customer’s needs, in both a responsible but sustainable manner.
“At the heart of our strategy is value for money for our customers and at the same time being able to sustain the operations of the company for the long- term. We strongly believe that Internet access is a Human Right. Since 2010, we have enabled this right for all our customers, regardless of who and where they are in Uganda, by consistently giving them15MB of free Internet every month.” We believe that this gesture from MTN has recruited many new data users in the country and in the process contributed greatly to the digitization of Uganda’s social and business activities.
Content Management Solution (CMS) to address spamming and unexplained charges for subscriptions services
Meanwhile, MTN Uganda has also implemented a content management solution. The solution will manage the distribution and billing of content from 3rd party content providers to MTN customers. CMS provides features that will enable MTN customers to accept or stop promotional SMS messages and subscription alerts of various information like current news and sports news, relationship/love tips and service updates among others.
“It’s a top business priority for MTN to focus on driving a positive customer experience across all our services & product portfolios,” said Mr. Gouldie. He added “We are therefore very mindful of the concerns our customers have continued to raise about the spam messages they receive from content providers and hence have taken the initiative to give them the power to take control and choose the messages they receive”. In addition, MTN is implementing a 30 day expiry and customers will be given an option to select continue if they so wish to continue receiving the subscription notifications. And it’s our recommendations that this becomes an industry standard.
This solution will in effect put the power in the hands of customers to stop unwanted SMS messages, and to subscribe or unsubscribe to messages of their choice. It will allow customers to opt out of receiving specific messages as identified by a Sender ID – which is the name/number from which these messages are received by a subscriber. Customers will still have the option to keep receiving or subscribing messages about products and services they deem important to them. To use the solution, customers dial *175# and follow prompts. We are also in the process of migrating this functionality to *196#
This solution that has been developed in collaboration with Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), is a pro-active first step towards protecting our customers from spamming and charges they knowingly or unknowingly incur as a result of subscribing to information services/alerts they receive on their mobile handsets.
“At MTN, we value the trust that customers have put in our brand and we will do all that is necessary to ensure that they have a positive experience when using our services, Gouldie concluded.
Fact sheet on Content Management
When you dial *175#, you will stop receiving unwanted SMS messages, promotional messages, subscription alerts and only allows you to receive the messages you want.
MTN is putting the power back in your hands.
Q. What type of SMS messages can I stop?
A. You can stop Promotional Messages and Subscription Alerts.
Q. Where and how can I access this service?
A. The service can be accessed anywhere, anytime on your mobile phone by dialing *196#
Q. What are Promotional Messages?
A. These are messages used to promote various products and services, e.g. wedding meetings, bonus offers or SMS from utility providers and other companies advertising their products.
Q. What are Subscription Alerts?
A. These are any SMS messages from Content Providers that require the receiver to subscribe and be charged for the messages they receive. Examples of such messages include News and Sports or Love tips.
When you subscribe to these messages your airtime is deducted each time you receive a message/alert. Charges for subscriptions are indicated when you are subscribing.
Q. Who are Content Providers?
A. These are companies that send information to mobile subscribers through channels like SMS or voice messages. This information might be free or charged. The charged messages are usually referred to as Subscription Alerts.
Q. What happens if I choose to “Stop All” messages?
A. You will not be able to receive any information including transaction alerts from banks, utility payments such as water (NWSC), electricity (UMEME), Pay TV (DStv) or wedding meeting messages.
However, you have the option to allow particular messages as indicated by a Sender ID. For example, if you want to continue receiving messages from UMEME, NWSC or your bank, you dial *196# and select Subscription Alerts, select Alerts by Sender ID, select Allow and enter the Sender ID of the type of message you want to continue receiving.
Q. What is a Sender ID?
A. This is the name of the information/message that you receive. These names could be those of banks, such as DFCU or from utility service providers like UMEME, NWSC and DStv. A Sender ID may also include a number and the topic of the message, e.g. 8008 News, 8198 Sports, 8002 Love among others.
Q. What happens if I want to reactivate receiving messages?
A. The power is in your hands. Simply dial *196#, select Subscription Alerts, select All Alerts or Alerts by Sender ID and follow the prompts.
The same process applies when you want to allow Promotional Messages to be sent to you.