Cellphone company ‘slack’ about cancelling contract

2015-08-18 09:00

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WHEN it comes to sales, cellphone companies are usually quick to close a deal, but it’s a pity they don’t always pay as much attention to customers who want to cancel a contract.

Pensioner Mahomed Suleman cancelled an R89 a month data and dongle contract, giving MTN more than a month’s notice before the expiry date of March 29.

But almost six months later, when he was still fighting to close the account and sitting with unexplained debit orders of up to R1 008 processed through his bank account, he turned in desperation to Witness Crusaders.

Suleman said he went twice to the MTN store near Woolworths in Liberty Midlands Mall to ask about the cancellation, but consultants told him the contract could only be cancelled by faxing head office.

“I sent a fax on February 24, informing MTN that the contract must be cancelled, instructing MTN to advise me by e-mail confirming the cancellation,” he said.

However, instead of confirming the cancellation, Suleman said MTN continued to debit his bank account with a whopping R1 008,13 in May and a further R996,42 in August.

“I have not received any positive feedback from MTN. I phoned them I don’t know how many times and they just left me holding on like a dead duck,” he said.

Suleman said staff at the branch were also “just not interested”.

“MTN is absolutely slack,” Suleman complained.

Suleman said he instructed Standard Bank to place a stop payment on the debit order.

“I asked the bank manager what I am supposed to do if they put through a debit order for R10 000 and all my other debit orders were reversed.”

Suleman said he had also called MTN while he was at the bank and a staff member had assured him that the contract had been cancelled, but she apparently refused to provide him with written proof.

I took the matter up with both MTN’s head office and the store manager, who declined to comment, saying it was a corporately owned store and he was not allowed to speak to the media.

MTN SA chief customer experience officer Eddie Moyce said the company received Suleman’s fax and acknowledged it on February 25 when it was sent to the “retention” department for processing.

However, he said the cancellation was only made on May 31, which was why the debit order had continued.

“The charges the customer was billed for are for the usage generated in May as the customer was utilising the services up to date of the cancellation,” he said.

Moyce said the amount of R1 008,13 was for “additional usage incurred for data” in April.

“This comprises R69 of one GB of data bundles, R776,88 for packet data calls, R34,10 for call charges, R7,89 for call line identity fee, R4,05 for short messages and an R89 monthly contract premium, excluding additional charges,” he said.

Moyce said the R966,42 charge was for data usage in May.

However, Suleman denied using the dongle after March 29, questioning how MTN could now acknowledge receipt of his fax, yet it had only cancelled the contract three months later.

Asked whether the account had possibly been renewed fraudulently, Moyce said no fraudulent upgrade had been effected.

In the end, although stopping short of an apology, MTN resolved the dispute and offered to pay for the bank charges Suleman had incurred as a result of the delayed cancellation by MTN.

“MTN has successfully cancelled the number, as per the customer’s request. As a gesture of goodwill, MTN is prepared to credit the customer for banking charges incurred on condition that MTN receives proof of the amounts billed,” said Moyce.

It is important to add, while on the issue of contract cancellations, that according to the Consumer Protection Act, all suppliers, including cellphone companies, have to notify subscribers of the impending expiry of a contract in writing “or any other recordable form” between 40 days to 80 days before a contract expires.

Notifications must advise consumers of their options to cancel or renew, and must also highlight any “material changes,” such as a price hike, if the contract continues

Read more on:    mtn  |  cell phone  |  contract

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