GSM Billing: Are we being cheated?

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As someone who hates to be cheated (who doesnt?), the thought sometimes crosses my mind as to whether the GSM companies might be taking us for a ride.

Once upon a time, we willingly paid N50 per minute to keep in touch with loved ones and carry out business transactions. With the advent of Per Second Billing and further drops in call tariffs (due to competition or regulation?), voice calls now vary between N20 – N40 depending on your talk plan with your carrier and who you are calling (call rates are higher when you call outside your network).

To find a way around the exhorbitant rates of making calls to other networks, many of us now carry SIM cards of virtually all the networks and make calls to the appropriate network. Others simply visit a commercial call centre and pay N20 per minute, while others yet go for the CDMAs which are relatively cheaper.

I can safely argue that many Nigerians do not know the call tariffs they are on. They basically are aware of the name of the plan e.g. XtraCool or Classic Plus and know that making intra-network calls are cheaper. But very few of us do check how much we are actually charged per call.

I decided to run some random tests and discovered that with all the networks there were discrepancies in the billing. In many instances, I was overbilled – for example, I was charged 56 kobo per second on my MTN Xtra cool instead of 53 kobo. Surprisingly, I also noticed that I have also been undercharged – On Etisalat, I was charged N29.50 instead of N30 for a 60 second call at 50 kobo per second.

So my question is, what could be the cause of the erratic pricing?
Human or Computer glitches? NCC where are you?

I enjoin you to pull out your pencils and calculators and carry out your own random tests. You will discover how much you are actually paying for that call and in the end maybe brush up your maths skills!