The Forum for National Development (FND) would like to call upon the Mobile Company operator, Airtel Malawi to immediately fix its services and unfair tariffs which is reaping off poor Malawians or face service boycott and protest from the consumers and the public. On 4th October 2017, FND wrote Airtel Malawi, querying the company on three critical issues which included the company charging for drop calls, unexplained data depletion and expensive tariffs and poor network services.
In our communication, we noted that Airtel was charging for drop calls. The drop calls are instances when in the middle of the call, communication breaks down yet the airtime continue to be depleted. We were shocked that Airtel did not take time to apologize to its customers nor even offer compensation for the money that has been lost due to the same. In our opinion, Airtel has been reaping off its customers whom majority are poor Malawians.
We also made note of the way data depletes which cannot be explained and also that the Companies tariffs are expensive compared to other networks, in the SADC region as well as where Airtel one area network operates.
FND further noted that Airtel network has been offering a raw deal to its customers and services and this has left your clientele complaining. Airtel network has become unreliable, calls are in consistent and many instances, it becomes very difficult to complete a call since it’s terminated in between a call. Coupled to this there are also internet interruptions.
While your customers are facing these challenges from using Airtel network, we noted that the company has maintained the same promotional advertisement and brand activation without due regard of the challenges being experienced and its deceiving to your clients.
The company pride itself as being the prime network in the country, yet its services leaves a lot to be desired. Malawi as a developing country, depends on a very reliable communication network and unreliable service is affecting the development of Malawi. Similarly, expensive tariffs and unexplained charges is giving Malawians a raw deal, and reducing the already dismal disposable income. In reality, this is contributing to the economic downturn at individual and household level as more money is spent on communication which would been used on other basic needs.
Communication is no longer a luxury among Malawians, and as Airtel has continuously stated in your promotions, it has become part parcel of daily life for every Malawian. It is against this background, that FND made the following requests to the company;
1. Airtel Malawi must makes amends to compensate its customers on the lost income due to charges incurred while on drop calls and provide an assurance that this will never occur again.
2. Airtel Malawi must provide a time frame which this system upgrade will take and assure its
customers that the network will improve of its service delivery.
3. Airtel Malawi must offer a public apology and explanation of why and how the upgrade has
contributed to poor services.
4. MACRA must appropriate mete applicable charges and penalties to encourage network
operators meet their obligations and invest in the network timely.
5. The Competition and Fair Trade Commission should also mete applicable charges and penalties in order to ensure that customers are not unfairly duped of their hard earned cash.
In Airtel Malawi response letter dated 11th October 2017, the Company assured FND and entire Malawi of continued commitment to offering excellent services. We are sad to note that what has happened in the last three months cannot be any closer to what is called excellent services. The company in the same letter indicated that their service as of 11th October 2017 was back to normal and believed that all our concerns were addressed. However, we note that there hasn’t been much of an improvement from Airtel on the issues that we raised in the last three months Malawians continue to experience a raw deal from Airtel Malawi and this cannot continue.
We as FND gave Airtel a benefit of doubt for the last three months but not much change has occurred. Many Malawians continue to complain about the poor service and network from Airtel.
It is in light of the above, that we believe that our original demands have not been met by Airtel and are still valid and has to be addressed. We therefore ask Airtel Malawi to ratify its network problems and apologize for continue poor services to Malawi.
Should the company not be able to do, this we will start a mass mobilization campaign demanding a boycott titled ‘a day without Airtel’ of the Company’s services and also if need be a vigil be organized in the offices of Airtel national wide demanding that the company apologize and compensate its customers for the unfair charges on the drop calls.
Fryson Chodzi Bright Kampaundi
NATIONAL COORDINATOR CHAIRPERSON