Ghana telecoms companies to be probed for ‘promotions and tariff cuts’

The Minister of Communications, Haruna Iddrisu has asked the National Communications Authority (NCA) to probe the various ‘text and win’ promotions by telecom operators to verify whether they are consistent with gaming laws of the country.

He said if the probe reveals that the telecom operators’ practices are inconsistent with the laws, they would be dealt with according to the law.

The Minister was speaking on Good Morning Ghana talk show on Metro TV.

MTN and TIGO in particular had run promotions that required customers to text at premium rates of between 5Gp and 75Gp to stand a chance to win.

Out of millions of customers who participated in those, so-called, customer loyalty rewards promotions, only a few won the prizes.

Some have questioned whether those promotions are consistent with general practice in customer loyalty rewards promotions across the world.

The Consumer Protection Agency (CPA), for instance, described those MTN promotions as a rip off.

It is important to note that Vodafone Ghana and Zain Ghana have also run several customer reward promotions since coming into the country, but Vodafone in particular has never done a ‘text and win’ promotion.

Mr. Haruna Iddrisu also noted that the recent price cuts by the various telecom operators is welcome as competition gets stiffer, but the regulator has also been asked to probe the various price plans to verify if they are real.

Vodafone was the first to reduce call rates to all networks from 14Gp to 8Gp per minute, but subject to registration through a short code.

Zain Ghana also reduced their call rate to all networks from 12Gp to 8Gp per minute across board, no need to register through any short code.

Recently MTN has announced three call plans, under which customers get to make calls for as low as 7.5Gp per minute, depending on what call plan one is on.

One of MTN’s tariff plans dubbed “Talk a lot” says the first minute of call costs 10Gp, the second and third minutes cost 9Gp each and the rest of the time cost 7.5Gp.

Some Vodafone customers complain why Vodafone require a registration before customers enjoy 8Gp per minute, whiles MTN customers say the ‘talk a lot’ plan makes room for MTN to rip off customers.

Mr. Haruna Iddrisu says the NCA will probe all those price plans and verify whether the telecom operators are giving subscribers what they claim.

Meanwhile, Zain Ghana has welcomed the probe saying “as responsible corporate citizens we are ready to comply with any audit ordered by government.”

Acting Head of Corporate Communications at Zain Ghana, Mrs. Antoinette Atuah tells Adom News that the NCA periodically checks out tariffs for authenticity and they have always been satisfied that the rates Zain publishes are what customers are enjoying.

Officials of Vodafone say they do not have any official correspondence on plans to probe their promotions and tariffs so they do not have comments on the matter.

But one Vodafone official pointed out that Vodafone does not do ‘text and win ‘promotions so there is nothing to probe in that respect.

By Samuel Dowuona

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