A loud outcry is being voiced by members of the public as airtime scratch cards prices continue to go up without a clear explanation.
It started with a few complaints on social media from mobile phone users who said they had been charged extra money instead of what telecoms write on their scratch cards.
“Airtel Uganda, MTN, Africell, why are you selling airtime scratch cards for Shs500 & Shs1000 at Shs600 & Shs1200 respectively?” a concerned Ugandan asked.
Please @mtnug print 600 UGX and 1,200 UGX airtime cards. Why do you want us to pay above amount for cards with 500 UGX and 1,000 UGX?
— Kiiza Wilson (@kiiza26) November 4, 2017
It had been noted that several airtime vendors in Kampala suburbs and some parts of Wakiso were charging an extra Shs100 or Shs200.
Retail airtime dealers claim those who supply the scratch cards told them to add an extra Shs200.
“Hello MTN, Airtel, what is this thing of buying airtime of 2,000 and paying extra 400/= for agent commission?” another one inquired, suggesting that the agents themselves are adding their own commission.
It was Africell that endeavoured to explain on social media that it had not increased the price of airtime cards: “Africell scratch cards should be sold at that exact value of the airtime card,” the telecom tweeted.
Africell scratch cards should be sold at that exact value of the airtime card.
— Africell Uganda (@africellUG) November 5, 2017
Airtel Uganda has not spoken out on the matter. MTN when asked, told edge.ug that the practice was illegal as it had not increased the prices.
“We have not hiked our prices at all. There are certain individuals that are doing so,” MTN told edge.ug on Sunday.
“We request you to load airtime using mobile money or easy load to avoid being cheated as we investigate on the airtime over charge case.”
In July, Uganda Communications Commission [UCC] directed MTN Uganda to justify changes in voice and data prices implemented in the last 12 months for which they were not notified.
In a letter dated July 7, 2017 addressed to the telecom, UCC executive director, Eng Godfrey Mutabazi, said they had received several complaints from customers as regards to data discrepancies.
The South African telecom company was under intense pressure after Ugandans lost their tempers over what they termed as data theft.