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Nigerian Mobile Network Operators and Deceptive Bonuses

Just the other day, I heard a jingle on radio about a fellow who obviously had been calling his friends more regularly than usual. When asked if he had won (been given) a monthly call bonus, the man fired back with something like “awoof don turn salary” (has bonus become a salary)? Now, this scenario portrayed the idea of seeming privilege attached to these deceptive bonuses (both call and data) given by mobile network operators in Nigeria. But as some of us have found out – perhaps, the harsh way – the truth is that these bonuses are often illusory.

It is may be relevant to note that some level of positive change has been witnessed in how Nigerian mobile network operators do business since the first of the networks started back in 2001. The bonuses given by these operators could be described as part of noticed improvement, but just in part. These bonuses are not exempted from the unethical practices of these Nigerian mobile network operators, which include bombarding customers with unsolicited messages.

What you probably didn’t know about mobile network bonuses

Hardly will you find people who do not like a little “awoof” here and there. An average Nigerian mobile phone user’s face will usually light up after receiving notification of a bonus. But the discerning ones will observe that these bonuses are sometimes deceptive, illusory and unusable. Such are the practices that the regulators in the country have allowed subscribers to be subjected to. Besides, what help will regulators who couldn’t help when your money was being deducted mysteriously do about “mere” bonus? Don’t even think of it.

Deceptive bonusesI could remember a time I was given between N1,000 to N2,000 in recharge bonus by one of the networks (most likely the red one) and I was unable to use even a kobo out of the bonus. It happened like that several times. The same network once gave me 5X bonus after reaching a stipulated threshold and had my balance wiped while trying to use the bonus for an on-net call – for which it was intended – with the bonus remaining untouched. That is just the case of a network; other mobile operators are not exempted from similar practices as this.

I have also observed that data bonuses given by these Nigerian mobile network operators are for the most part illusory. They run out faster that a bottle of cold water handed out to a thirsty man on a sunny day. If you have taken time to observe how these data bonuses are used up, you will realise the point I’m making. My most recent experience involved the yellow network. I had 6 megabytes of complementary data and almost N50 as balance. You wouldn’t believe that both the data and line balances were wiped while trying to download a file of less than 4 megabytes which didn’t even complete. Complaint to the network was not a bit helpful in satisfactorily explaining what happened.

Getting fleeced

While some might argue that subscribers should at least be grateful for the bonuses given, I will say there is really no big deal about them. The rates these companies charge for calls are not exactly the cheapest in the world, even in Africa. Also, cost of data is rather too pricey in this country. A look at data prices in India and prices of data plans in Nigeria shows subscribers in this country are getting fleeced by these mobile network operators on data plans. For about N400, you could get 1GB data plan in India. Did I hear you say what? It’s true! Although it appears electricity in India is more stable, but I don’t think that is enough to explain the significant disparity in prices.

It is quite disappointing thinking about these deceptive bonuses and other unethical practices of Nigerian mobile network operators. Anyway, be careful and save yourself the over-excitement the next time you get to receive any call or data bonus. Be observant!

Updated: March 21, 2015 — 8:25 PM
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