MTN, Tigo and Star Media keep giving me reasons to take my business elsewhere

Nice advert. I don’t know how honest MTN Rwanda is though. ‘My Network’ is shit.

What can I say, do we ever learn? We suffer through hopeless customer service and all we do is smile wearily and go back for more. I believe that we are all suffering from a severe case of Stockholm Syndrome.

Think I’m wrong? Then how can you explain this; according to figures coming out of the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) headquarters in Kiyovu, by the end of August, the country had 5.09 million mobile subscribers. And as usual, MTN remained market leader with 3.188 million subscribers.

This despite the fact that, for the last month or so, the telecom behemoth  accrued fines of Rwf 60 million and counting because, as a RURA statement read, it “decided to issue a confirmation enforcement notice and to impose a penalty to MTN Rwanda over persistently poor quality services”.

Everyone has their own ‘poor MTN service’ story. Dropped calls, poor voice quality and snail-pace Internet connectivity comprise my horror stories and I’m sure you can add to my complaints. What I can’t figure out is this, if RURA is getting millions because MTN failed to honor its contractual obligations, then why aren’t we, the customers, getting a coin?

I didn’t want to assume the worst i.e. that MTN Rwanda was a greedy, untouchable corporate giant taking its clients for granted, so I asked MTN’s David Kezio Musoke, its public relations honcho, what was going on, when it was going to get fixed and whether they would compensate us, the clients, for the terrible service they’d been rendering.

The poor service was, he told me, “mainly due to what was termed as ‘significant number of Call Set Failures and Abrupt Call disconnection’ that results (sic) in frequent dropped calls. You also have to also understand that sometimes some technical hitches might be beyond our control like fiber cuts, since we depend on coastal submarine cables.  MTN Rwanda it is a continual process to upgrade our network. We have made tremendous effort to improve the network and we have since received positive growth. In relation with the recent penalties we have done drive tests and within the course of this week we shall submit our report to RURA”.

Well, about the compensation for poor service, I was told MTN couldn’t quantify it, which is rather unfortunate.

I DO understand that things cannot always run smoothly. However, what I DON’T understand is why a company as big as MTN doesn’t attempt to connect with it clients better service. For example, by giving its weary clientele free text messages, because honestly, I would leave MTN if I had a choice. Sadly, I cannot simply because it would be too complicated to do so; I would have to change numbers and then inform everyone about my new contact details. Who has the time for that?

I don’t want this to seem like I’m taking a swipe at MTN. I have heard stories of Star Media users

François Régis Gatarayiha, head of RURA. His organisation is making a killing but the question that must be asked in, “how is it helping the final consumer”?

being unable to access certain channels they’ve paid for. Tigo, the second biggest telecom, was recently been served with a precautionary notice by RURA.

The fact of the matter is that we, the consumers, are being taken for granted and there is absolutely nothing we can do. Which leads me to ask, why haven’t we, the consumers, done anything about this? We cannot assume that the government will fight all our battles. I suggest that we use the tools at our disposal, such as social media like Twitter and Facebook, to name and shame the errant companies. We are not without weapons.

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2 thoughts on “MTN, Tigo and Star Media keep giving me reasons to take my business elsewhere

  1. Nkurunziza says:

    Sunny,
    It is not as easy as it looks since from what Kezio told you it looks like the problem is capacity related. This means there could be too many calls, texts and data than the network can handle. I agree with you that customers need to be compensated somehow but MTN & RURA have a fine balancing act to perform. For example If as suggested you give customers free text messages there will be too many texts than the network can handle recreating the capacity problem (actually I believe this would increase call setup failures and also create the problem of messages being queued taking forever to reach their destinations).

    The Twitter & Facebook idea also would be effective if MTN data services were good. How do you make posts with no or very poor Internet connectivity. It all sounds chicken and egg at this point but the solution is clearly more investment going to the network infrastructure. This is also a bit complicated especially for the multinationals whose capital is normally leveraged. Their credit has to be serviced, cash flow maintained while reducing operating expenditure (regulator fines increase this figure). All this has to happen while the customer base is increasing as you have shown normally and at times this increase is way beyond projections from which budget lines are drawn.

    Anyway by now you get the idea that it is a bit complex and the MTN & RURA guys have a lot to consider. However this doesn’t mean that we as customers should resign ourselves to receiving bad services. An article like yours is a great starting point in highlighting some of the problems we face. Hope your business/technology journalism colleagues can take your lead and develop your article further. There are also other services that are more of a concern like our insurance services (e.g. how long it takes for one to get a refund after an accident) which are way below other countries in the region but are hardly covered.

  2. Social media is been friendly to a business and it is really a good reason to take your business from else where.In Helsinki Finland many of call center companies already hug social media which help a lot of business get the satisfaction that they want using it.

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