Is your telco a nuisance? By Seyi Olanihun

It’s hard to believe that GSM telephony is already a decade in Nigeria. Ten years of ‘enjoying’ services by the various telecommunications companies. Etisalat is the newest entrant and I’m not quite sure how many years it’s been around, but it also provides the same range of products and services with the other organisations.

The bundle offers, pricing and products are generic (even though I’m sure they’ll all beg to differ with me) and can be likened to the ‘lesser of two evils’ scenario. I’m sure the telecoms (not only GSM providers now) all provide products and services that they can i.e. equipment and man power permitting.

Competition is stiff and is a great way to keep each provider on its toes. Lots of people have more than one telephone line, be it GSM or other. Some people have become quite adept at juggling them and have various preferences (sometimes theories too!) for which company serves them best with a particular product or service. Everyone’s experience may differ but everyone unanimously agrees that the quality of service could be vastly improved i.e. better service delivery and price regimes being of paramount importance.

With competition as fierce as its wont to be, the promos of new products and services is vigorously pursued by everyone concerned. Some old products or services have also been given a new lease of life through innovation and these are also promoted aggressively…all in a bid to increase market share and revenue in the interim and long term.

In order for the information to reach the end user, messages are created and disseminated via advertising and other direct means. These consumers may well be existing or potential subscribers. The former category could already own a line from a telecoms company, but they may not be using certain products/services. On the other hand they could also be owners of a line from a rival and enjoy the offerings from the competition. In all, each and every person that already owns or enlists the services on offer from either organisation is a potential client. The overriding factor is that each of these individuals could still consume MORE of the products or services the companies provide.

Market dynamics being what they are, I really don’t begrudge the advertising, promo and general noise each operator makes in order to ensure top of mind awareness, increased sales and revenues. The only time this ticks me off (royally!) is when the service provider becomes a certified nuisance! Nuisance is what some of them have become because the amount of text messages informing you about one promo or the other has become nothing more than glorified harassment.

Some operators aren’t limited to text messages, but further compound the issue further through calls (automated or otherwise). Available technology is used to amplify the annoyance and achieve set targets. The haranguing is more than should be permitted by the regulatory body. Do I hear that it should not be allowed AT ALL? I believe that closer monitoring of inappropriate solicitation by the NCC will ensure a reduction and may eventually end the annoyance currently experienced by numerous consumers nationwide.

Of late the NCC wielded the stick and meted out stiff monetary penalties, this action is still open to interpretation of how beneficial the action has been (or will be!) to consumers .i.e. will it prevent a reoccurrence or it doesn’t make a difference? Only time will tell. The Consumer Protection Council ought to be able to do something to intervene in this current situation. Messages, calls and much more at odd times and of inordinate quantity provides an overall picture that’s unfavourable to the guilty parties.

I prefer to receive a message alert and know it’s something that will beneficial to me. Business, family and friends fall in that category. The occasional message from my service provider could also fall in that category, but when the situation becomes such that out of every FIVE messages received daily, THREE is an advert of sorts, then it becomes irritating. The only option left will be to find a solution that can bypass the annoyance but that still renders quality service and products!



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