Cell C customers rebel over BIS

2013-08-15 08:29
Cell C has imposed its fair use policy on BIS users. (BlackBerry)

Cell C has imposed its fair use policy on BIS users. (BlackBerry)

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Cape Town - Some mobile users have reacted strongly to mobile operator Cell C's modification of its fair use agreement that imposes a limit on BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS).

On Wednesday, Cell C imposed a 2GB cap on BIS and sent users a text to confirm the policy.

"With effect from 19th August BIS and BES users will receive 2GB data for BlackBerry usage over 30 days, while Social Plan or Social & Email Plan users will receive 1GB data for BlackBerry usage over 30 days," the policy says in part.

"As far as I am concerned they were only too quick to get my signature onto the contract but when it comes to keeping their end of the contract they are now defaulting, as far as I am concerned this is breach of contract as I am not getting the services I was promised by their experienced sales staff when persuaded to sign the contract," said News24 user Samantha Landsberg.

Her comments reflected a growing trend on sites like Hellopeter where several people complained when the policy was announced.


The policy change also elicited a response on Twitter with several users expressing their frustration at the operator.

"I signed a 2-year contract largely because of the unlimited BIS... I get what you're trying to do, but no. Not cool! @CellC," tweeted Morne Esben (?@Morne13).

For its part, Cell C said that the cap was generous and the policy was implemented to limit abuse of the service.

"Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive as the threshold will improve quality of service for all customers using the service legitimately. In addition, the data allocation is very generous," Cell C chief commercial officer Jose Dos Santos told News24.

He said that some customers had consumed large amounts of data and this had reduced the service quality for others on BIS.

"Despite measures put in place earlier this year, abuse of the service is still high on the Cell C network and the streamlining of the service allows the company to address this problem. Some customers are still using in excess of 100GB of data affecting the service levels of other BlackBerry customers."

Vodacom proposed a throttling of BIS users who went over a certain limit, but dropped the proposal when customers objected.

Customer feedback

MTN earlier in the year implemented a fair policy limiting data usage on BIS, but the company did a U-turn when customers rebelled.

MTN announced a decline of 600 000 subscribers on Wednesday.

Cell C said that while it would watch customer feedback, it was confident that most users would not object to the cap.

"Cell C will monitor customer feedback on the matter. However, we believe that with the generous thresholds we have put in place, customers that use the service legitimately will not have a changed experience, except with regards to quality improvements," said Dos Santos.

Landsberg, though, is unmoved and argued that the company has conducted itself in an unethical manner by changing her BIS contract.

"I think it's unethical and frankly illegal to punt the phone with this 'wonder feature' and then change the terms of the contract midway through."

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
Read more on:    mtn  |  cell c  |  blackberry  |  vodacom  |  mobile

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