Dumping My Darling, MTN - By Aliyu Tilde
I just returned from the Glo zonal office at Yakubu Gowon Way, Jos. I acquired a new glo line and went on to configure my Blackberry Internet Service on it, ending my long days with my darling, MTN. Make no mistake about it: This is a one man's declaration of war against the biggest telecommunications giants in Africa. And I will win it. Soon. If you like your pocket, join me. Switch to another line, even if temporarily, until MTN brings down its tariff. You will be saving thousands of Naira by the end of the month. May be as much as $2,000 or more annually. And you know what? You will not miss anything! Do you need to be convinced? Come with me.
MTN's prepaid services are still going for about N36/min. My goodness! Forget about the gimmick of its lower rates for one or four special numbers special numbers - family and friends it calls them. My family is large, my friends many. Sorry MTN. Keep the offer. Now, if you are like me, you grudgingly spend an average of N1,500.00 on a moody day. In a better mood, however, N3,000.00/day is really conservative enough to make me a professor of economics. In a month MTN makes a return of at least N45,000.00 from me - less than half of it legitimate; more than half, robbery.
You understand the racket as soon as you switch to another provider of equal competence, say Glo. The retention capacity of your pocket would double automatically. Glo 'infinity' - whatever that means - gives you a handsome prepaid package of N15.00/min at no extra cost, to any line, anywhere, anytime. Who said saving N21.00 in every minute I dial my phone will not make me richer suddenly? That is N875.00 daily or N26,500 monthly, if I abandon MTN. I have. That is more than a living cost of a family, a la Labour's minimum wage. Econet, sorry Airtel, is knocking on my door for even a better offer: N12/min. Is MTN living on the moon? MTN would need to convince me why I should keep our friendship. Since the cheaper rates provided by other lines are blanket, allowing us to enjoy the same rate to any line, and they have now largely the same spread as MTN, the company should quickly realize that its days of monopoly are over. It either comes down from its high profiteering pedestal or we will push it under. Perhaps sensing the trouble is why MTN is conducting surveys among its high user customers.
I was at Mutala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, when this polite lady on 180 called me asking why my usage in June was lower than in previous months. I told her I have been away. If she calls again this time, I have a better answer for her: catch me on glo, madam. MTN has been notorious in devastating our pockets without pity. I remember our plea to the career in those days to switch its meter from per minute to per second charge. It played the deaf and dumb game with Nigerians until mighty glo emancipated us. Glo hit the market with its per second charge from day one. In the beginning MTN was adamant and skeptical, but it did not take long before it caved in given the mass migration of customers to glo. I am a veteran of that war.
And here I return. Old habits die hard. The little concession I will give MTN is to leave my line open for incoming calls, just in case a fortune would visit me through that gate, though fortune hardly comes these days. That too has a moratorium. Three months only. I will only reconsider reviving my friendship with MTN only if it becomes more generous than glo and other carriers. The next stage of my protest after the moratorium is to boycott those using MTN unless their call carries a big positive monetary value. Therefore, it makes sense to join me in my protest if you are on MTN. But it makes better sense for MTN to come down steadily by harmonizing its tariff with those of other careers before we collapse the telecom giant through the dictates of the free market.