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.

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5 Comments

  1. It gets a lot worse than you’ve outlined. MTN actively hides all of it’s information on mobile data from mobile devices by redirecting you to MTN Play – a frivolous service designed to rip you off for wallpapers and ringtones. This is an obvious problem for a country that primarily accesses the web through mobile devices. Furthermore, their purchasing user journeys don’t comply with our Consumer Protection Act or the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

    Basically South Africans are getting fucked, hard, by our most successful company. If you’re interested, pull up my email addy and hit me up. I’ve got tons of screenshots and documentation which you might be interested in.

  2. Lol… had a screaming match with Vodacom about this same practice last month!!

  3. I did send in the complaint to the NCC.
    It appears that MTN recently made the change to correct this – I was able to purchase a bundle today and it took the remaining data and added it and gave me a single expiry date in February.
    Mission accomplished? It seems so.

  4. Vodacom is STILL using this practice – newest data used first…

    Can we not lodge a complaint against Vodacom as well?

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