The Return of My Darling, MTN
My readers have to contend with a very bad habit in me. I am quick in praise as I am quick in blame.
Few weeks ago, in Dumping My Darling, MTN (http://fridaydiscourse.blogspot.com/2011/07/short-essay-16-dumping-darling-MTN.HTML), I declared war on the largest GSM carrier on the African continent because of the high tariff it was charging of N35/min over the low cost of N12 – N15/min that other networks are charging on some of their bundles. It did not take time after the publication that I learnt from insider sources that MTN was already considering reviewing its rates downwards. I thought it would take a long time. But, happily, it did not.
Yesterday, the “180” Customer Service girl called me again announcing a new pre-paid bundle launched by the company – the MTN SUPER SAVER! It promises customers of charges as low as 17k/sec or N10.2/min on-net after attaining the initial 5 minutes or 300 seconds of call during the day. The 1st minute is charged at 58k/sec; while the initial 2nd – 5th minutes go at 20k/sec on-net. Off-net calls are charged at 25k/sec after the initial 5 minutes. The 1st minute is charged at 58k/sec as on-net; then 2nd to 5th minutes are charged at 30k/sec.
To migrate to the new bundle, the 180 girl said, all you need to do is to write 408 in SMS and send it to 131 and, behold, the new tariff will start. She also promised me that there are no hidden charges. I said, “Fine, I will try it. Thank you ma.”
This morning I set out to test the bundle with my calculator in hand. As my calls started, I noticed another innovation. MTN has pre-empted the Freedom of Information Act and my calculator. As enjoyed by customers in many countries around the globe, MTN has installed a meter that alerts me on the cost of my last call and my remaining balance. I wonder why we did not ask for this long ago. It kept alerting me of how many more seconds remained before I start enjoying the 17k/sec tariff. As soon as I reached it, the tariff started. Some calls cost N5, others N8, N10, N15, etc. A long 5 minutes call that I placed to a friend inquiring about an inverter cost just about N50.00. As soon as I got the alert, I could not help exclaiming, “Yes. My darling is back!”
Personally, I feel very comfortable with this rate. It is a giant step to ease the suffering of our pockets. And I hope it lasts. MTN has earlier withdrawn the Extra-Connect and Extra-cool bundles and replaced them with the higher ones like PayGo. If it realizes that the present rate will earn the company less than a third of what they used to harvest from me, it may be tempted to introduce a bundle of a higher tariff, taking another stream of protests and migration before it bows again.
However, for the majority of the 40 million MTN customers who call for less than 5 minutes a day, the new bundle may not be as merciful to them as it is to me and other long callers, though the 25k/sec is still better than – in fact only a half of – the previous MTN PayGo tariff. For anyone calling for not more than a minute in a day, his rate still remains at N34/min. Here, MTN has still some distance to trek.
In any case, the market is there to check the company for us. MTN Super Saver will compel other carriers to return to the drawing board, looking for ways to bring down their rates lower than that of MTN, perhaps to something like N5 or N7/min. Then we will return to shout at MTN again, “You leech! You thief!!! You … Bring down your tariff to N5 or N7/min as others are doing, otherwise we will migrate to other carriers. Then MTN, after a long pause, would return it to N3 or N4/sec. I do not know how low would giants continue to bow before the Adam Smith, 200 years after his death.
I will urge my readers who are on MTN pre-paid to immediately send 408 to 131 to avoid further loss of their hard earned money. If you are on post-paid, however, you do not need to bother. As one of my readers said in the comments on the previous article, you have been enjoying N12/min tariff long ago. Now it is our turn to smile.
Meanwhile, I will hold a party for my returnee darling, MTN, today. Unfortunately, MTN has created a dilemma in my heart. Should I divorce my second wife – whom I married after my divorce with MTN – or keep her?
I need your advice.
21 August 2011