If you have ever subscribed to a data plan on Etisalat Nigeria, you must have been bitten by the billing bug. By that I refer to the situation in which once your bundled data is exhausted, Etisalat’s systems automatically switches to billing you for internet access by pay as you go. Without any notice or warning, whatever available airtime on your line is eaten into for whatever internet task you are executing. If you are lucky, somehow you find out before too much damage is done. If the gods of mobilista are not smiling on you, your entire airtime is wiped out, and the only way you know that something is wrong is that you find out that you are unable to browse anymore. You check your balance and find N0.00.
No; it isn’t funny. Here is an example of how consumers are beginning to respond to this:
The more u look d less u see. Like magic whoa! It will disappear. I'm tired. “@IJwhiterabbit: Etisalat the Credit Criminals”
— mgbeke feeling funky (@GinaFatale) August 22, 2013
The credit criminals? Not good. Etisalat Nigeria has built a reputation as perhaps the most reliable mobile internet service provider in the country today. Letting something as simple as this billing bug ruin that reputation just does not make sense. Other service providers cut off internet access once a data bundle is exhausted and notify the subscriber via SMS. At least, I know that is how it works on Glo. The consumer is then given the option to renew a data plan or switch over to pay as you go internet. That makes sense. Consumers do not like surprises, especially if it involves disappearing airtime. Perhaps they wouldn’t mind surprises that involve extra airtime. I know I wouldn’t mind that.
Yes; Etisalat sends the consumer an SMS to say that the data balance is used up and that browsing will be billed at 5k per kb. However, that SMS may arrive late – after the damage is done. What is needed is an option for the consumer to choose to renew or to switch to pay as you go.
I have been bitten by the Etisalat bug more than once. At one point some months back, over N2,000 airtime on my line was wiped out. Oh; I was livid! The way I solved the problem was this: since I used my Etisalat line strictly for internet access, I loaded only exactly whatever amount I needed to subscribe to the data plan of my choice. That way, there was no airtime for the system to eat into whenever I exhaust my subscription. That works for me, but won’t be a practical solution for those who use their lines for both voice and internet access.
It is a bad day when subscribers begin to see reason with Saka:
So Saka knew what he was doing when he ported.
— Bohemian chick (@Chicasa) August 22, 2013
Etisalat Nigeria, over to you: please make your subscribers happy again.