By Africa Moyo
The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) has directed NetOne to compensate all subscribers who lost airtime on the Onefusion package over the weekend due to a faulty billing system.
Further, Potraz has demanded a database which indicates the total number of affected subscribers, their identity and the extent of the prejudice they suffered.
This was said by Potraz director general Dr Gift Machengete yesterday.
Potraz, which has in the past been accused of being a toothless bulldog for failing to rein in telecommunications firms that take consumers money without service, says the move would promote consumer rights.
Said Dr Machengete: “The authority has noted the billing challenges you are facing with the Onefusion product. We have also noted that you have sent communication to your subscribers advising and admitting the same challenges.
“Given the extent and magnitude of complaints raised to the regulator by the subscribers, we hereby direct you to compensate the affected consumers in accordance with the prejudice they endured. This is done in the spirit of promoting the consumers’ rights to complain and redress.”
Potraz wants a comprehensive database of the prejudiced subscribers by February 28 so that it uses it to establish if, indeed, the affected subscribers have been compensated.
Critically, NetOne has been directed to furnish Potraz with measures it has put in place to ensure that challenges relating to faulty billing do not recur.
This is probably the first time that Potraz has flexed its muscles on errant mobile phone players.
In the past, subscribers have complained bitterly that Econet Wireless Zimbabwe was “robbing” them of voice airtime and data bundles although much of this was consumers not switching off mobile data when not using it.
But some subscribers then moved to NetOne and Telecel.
NetOne, which has become the second largest mobile phone company with about 5,5 million subscribers, was fiercely criticised by subscribers on social media platforms for the “disappearing” data bundles and voice airtime over the weekend.
Writing on its Facebook page, NetOne apologised for challenges it was facing, and claimed it was working flat out to address the problem.
“Please accept our sincere apologies for the inconvenience you may have experienced in respect to the failure to download videos via the Facebook bundle.
“As NetOne we take pride in our endeavour to serve you; but unfortunately have failed to meet your service expectations on this issue. Upon thorough review of the situation we narrowed the cause to an unforeseen technical glitch.
“As a testament of our commitment towards improving your experience; our technical team is working flat out to rectify this challenge which should be resolved within the next 24 hours,” said NetOne in a statement released Saturday evening.