MTN South Africa on Monday issued an ambiguous statement saying it was cutting the cost of international telephone calls to “as little as 75c/minute” to a number of markets across Africa, including Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland.
It’s been widely reported, based on an incorrect reading of the unclear media statement — which omits facts material to consumers — that the 75c/minute rate applies to calls to all of these markets. But a closer interrogation shows that the mobile operator’s customers could, in fact, be paying as much as R3,89/minute if they place calls to Zimbabwe.
The tariffs, which are clearly aimed mainly at foreign nationals in South Africa wanting to call friends and family at home, actually vary widely between the markets that are listed in MTN’s statement.
TechCentral can reveal that the 75c/minute rate applies only to calls to Nigeria, where MTN has an operation. Calls to Lesotho and Mozambique are charged at R1,59/minute, while those to Swaziland cost R1,69/minute. The rate to Zimbabwe is a massive R3,89/minute.
Also not mentioned in MTN’s statement is the fact that the new rates are not permanent. Rather, they are part of a short-lived promotion that ends on 30 September, or in two weeks’ time. It’s not yet been decided if the promotion will be extended beyond that date.
In addition, the promotion is not available to all MTN customers, only to certain prepaid customers — those on PayAsYouGo and the Zone calling plans. It is not available to contract customers. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media
The full and unedited MTN media statement follows:
MTN, the leading mobile telecommunications provider, has introduced the lowest international call rates to key African destinations from as little as R0,75c per minute. Consumers will be able to talk to loved ones living in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Nigeria, Lesotho and Swaziland without having to empty their pockets.
“We are introducing an offering that would address the growing needs of our customer’s to make cheaper calls to international destinations either for business or for personal reasons. We understand that these are financially strenuous times and it is of importance that we boldly bring products that seek to address customers’ needs for affordable value,” says MTN SA Chief Marketing Officer, Brian Gouldie.
Gouldie says that MTN observed a need amongst a large base of its customers to make calls to African countries. These customers are key to MTN as they have a high demand for international calling minutes. We strive to enable these customers to stay connected to international destinations and with our low international call rates, MTN customers will enjoy MTN’s world class network for longer. Customers that are not on MTN can either buy an MTN starter pack to join MTN or port to MTN in order to enjoy the reduced international call rates to African destinations.