Computing Rants Technology

Collusion in ad-hoc mobile data bundle pricing?

The cellular networks seem to think we are all just as stupid as the government seems to think we are.

It is abundantly clear on these screen shots taken today from the Vodacom, MTN, and Cell C websites that they are either price-fixing or colluding, or deliberately being anti-competitive in their pricing for ad-hoc mobile data bundles. It must be more than coincidence they all arrive at the same prices for the same data volumes, yet each has a very different network infrastructure, backbone and peering configuration from the other.

I hate it when big corporates assume they are more intelligent than the consumer.


Computing Rants

To the National Consumer Commission RE: MTN unfair data billing

Dear Commissioner,

I believe that MTN are engaging in an unfair business practice with regards to the expiry policy of their Data Bundle products.
Data bundles loaded onto a contract cellular phone currently have a lifetime of 2 months in which they can be used. Once the two month period is complete, any remaining unused data expires.
While in general I do take issue with the entire concept of data that has already been paid for by a consumer being allowed to expire at all, this particular complaint is not in that regard.

I have an issue in the situation where multiple data bundles are active on a cellular phone at the same time, and the later expiring data is used *before* the soonest expiring data.
My situations is as follows:
In order not to overrun my data allowance and pay the ridiculous R2 per Megabyte out-of-bundle rate, somewhere around the 5th of the month I will purchase an add-on bundle.
On about the 20th of the month the billing cycle runs through and an additional contracted 150 Megabytes is added to my data allowance.
I end up with roughly as follows for my data balance:
+/- 772.56 MB expiring on 23/09
150 MB expiring on 21/10.
The problem is MTN then switch back the bundle usage to deduct from the data expiring in October first, rather than continuing to deduct from the data that will expire in September.
This leads to my longest lasting data being used up first, and my shorter lasting data often expiring unused.

This is a deliberate and unfair business practice designed to cheat the consumer of the product they have purchased.
I also believe there is universal merit to resolving this case for all consumers using cellphones in our country.

I hope you will have the time and inclination to take this up with cellphone operators, in particular MTN in my case.

Yours faithfully,

Shaun Dewberry.