Consumer extortion or Callertunes?

The first time I heard ‘ilekun ayo mi ti si…’ (the door of my joy is open..) while calling my sister instead of a normal ring tone, I thought she had ‘upped’ her game in the religion department. So now callers are entertained with upbeat christian tunes while they wait – not bad.

This was a couple of years ago. She didn’t really mind the callertunes but she would have preferred to be the one who asked for it.

I was happy it was only my MTN contacts that had this callertunes as it gets really boring, every other phone has random songs on them. Before long all of the major phone providers joined the game.

I found this a bit unsettling as the service was imposed on people without them asking for it and were charged 50naira/month for the service. This is chicken change if one had requested for it, but it is robbing the poor when they have no say and they have to get out of their way to remove the service only for it to be put back when the next month comes by.

One time MTN was doing another shuffling, so they put a muslim call out for prayer tune on my sister’s phone – that was the first time she thought of really visiting MTN office to lodge a complaint, she would love the tune to be removed and also made it clear she didn’t want the service – that lasted a month, now it’s back on.

People should not have to be charged without their consent in the first place especially for services they neither needed nor of any benefit to them.

Sometimes I wonder, why is it that the poor masses are always the easy target to prey on?

I have had the same MTN number for going to 10years now,  I used to use it often so on their bundles, so now, even if I didn’t use it for months, I rarely have issues with them – they don’t put callertunes on my phone.

Once I had to make a call so to stop all unsolicited text messages to my phone, their customer services were helpful and they granted what I wanted.

A handful of my friends too didn’t have this callertunes put on their phones.

Is this customer profiling? How do they do this, isolating people who could kick up fuss and only extort people who don’t have neither voice nor money?

My parents are both on MTN and now on the annoying callertunes too, neither wanted it. My father had once complained to their custom service that he would like the callertunes be removed, they did – now it’s back on. Taking 50naira/month from him and millions of other Nigerians without their consent.

Looking through my mother’s phone, loads of pop culture messages, sometimes she jumped up thinking she heard her phone ringing but often times, it’s another unsolicited messages – it is insane this is allowed.

I must say that mobile phone has transformed our society in a massive way and I am grateful for this but I do think businesses need checks and balances and customers’ interests need to be considered too.

As it stands individual complaints has not yielded desired result.

So I wonder, whose job is it to protect customers’ interests in the case of mass extortion such as this?

We do have Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson – is this what she can help with given the scale of the issue?



Categories: Africa, Nigeria

Tags: , , , ,

13 replies

  1. Sometimes you wonder who is the boss in Nigeria, the voters (customers), the leadership or the big companies? The latest annoying trend is this culture of gambling the networks are ALLOWED to propogate ….

    Liked by 1 person

    • In a perfect world, the leaders in key places are supposed to be on the side of the customers – they serve to echo our concerns and enforce law to the big companies.

      We are not in a perfect world, so everyone’s bosses are the big companies.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My people say that a goat that is supposed to be fed by many people often goes hungry.
    There is Ministry of Communication, there is ehh, National Communications Commission, there is Consumer Protection something something. I am sure if you look well, you will find others too, like National Human Rights Commission. Yet, these bodies cannot regulate these service providers.
    It is a crazy country where anything goes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We still have a long way to go in Nigeria but I know if we have the right people t the helm of a affairs such things will be sorted out one after the other. There was a time GTBank debited every customer ‘s account ₩1000 each, imagine how much that will come to, it was a radio phone in program that blew the whistle and the Central Bank of Nigeria forced GT to reverse it. We have the NCC, it’s responsible for such things but I don’t know if they are performing up to expectation. I do not get caller tunes as well because just as you noted, they do customer profiling and segregate the troublesome ones but my 90 year old mum gets and I guess so many other old and defenseless people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Can you believe that, a thousand naira each person? God dey! Bless the whistle blower and thanks to CBN for stepping in. See, many people would not necessarily notice this especially if you don’t check balance often.

      You are right, having the right person in key positions to fight our corners will make the world better for all.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hmmm FK, you are complaining about callerback tunes abi? My bank (I won’t mention their name) started removing N4 from my account every week for weekly summary. I don’t remember asking for weekly summary as I rarely use that account for anything except try to save some dough.

    I told them point-blank that they should take it off and stop taking my N4 (small change my little toe!) or I will carry the money to my other bank and save and put the spending money in their own account. LOL. Imagine taking that from a 100 or a million customers, weekly! Do the maths. When I asked for SMS alert, it was for transaction purposes (money in or out). Not removing N4 weekly from the N1,000 in there and by the end of the month, I have N984 plus other charges. ABEGI.

    Now to your complaints, I have heard some really ‘crazy’ songs for some of my pastors and my sister (who is not even a song person like that). One of my Pastors had to get someone that works there and attends church to help him with it. Sorry ok.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Right on the mark! It’s time somebody calls out these companies on the rip-off of consumers. In Nigeria, impunity is not limited to those in power.

    Thanks,
    TOLA.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. There seems to be no limit to some people’s capacity to think of new ways to rip off others. Another great piece, Folakemi.

    Liked by 1 person

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