WCRD 2014: CI Member helping to protect consumers from Mali mobile rip offs


Coulibaly Salimata Diarra explains how CI Member, Mali-based ASCOMA, is combatting top-up card mobile phone promotions which leave consumers short changed.   

Since mobile telephony arrived in Mali in 2002, it has captivated all sectors of society.  
Covering the costs of mobile phone ownership has proven as crucial to Malian families as the price of every day staples, including food.This massive uptake has undoubtedly inspired Orange Mali and Malitel, the two operators in Mali, in their decision to run top-up card promotions.
For example,  they offer 100% or more bonus credit on Malitel or Orange Mali top-ups for a limited validity period, or valid only on their own network.
The two mobile telephony operators can then rub their hands, having maximised their profit in a short space of time, while the customer very rarely actually consumes the allocated bonus credit.
These promotions tend to entail:  
problems accessing either of the two networks
credit lost through attempted calls,
and stress and the frustration of losing money without being able to reach and communicate with the person you are calling. 
This practice is manifestly unfair and may even, in many respects, amount to irrefutable abuse by the operators.
This is why the Consumers' Association of Mali (ASCOMA), with the support of Consumers International (CI), has launched this project with the aim of confirming these findings of abuse in top-up card promotional campaigns for targeted periods.
At ASCOMA, we strive to take action and make recommendations for tackling these abuses confirmed by the findings of the investigation/research under way in Mali.
At this stage of the investigation, our two operators have already been seen to exercise a degree of restraint. They refrained from running promotions during the Christmas holiday period.
For New Year 2014, Malitel awarded 100% unlimited bonus credit for 48 hours, while Orange offered 14 hours of calls on its network.
This encourages us to persevere, to achieve a balance where mobile users can make the most of top-up card promotions without encountering problems.
We believe that the benefits of the growth in mobile phone usage should be shared reciprocally.
The two operators must cease these practices and put customer satisfaction and respect at the top of their concerns.
The aims of our approach and actions are as follows:
To establish a formal framework for dialogue between operators and consumer organisations
To end the mandatory consumption of bonus credit obtained on top-up cards during holiday periods
To enjoy bonuses without restriction, or simply apply a tariff reduction
To encourage the relevant authorities to intervene as sector regulator
To uphold and promote the rights and interests of the consumer/customer
With CI and ASCOMA there is hope. Accountability is established - the fight for our rights continues!
This story was originally published on Consumers International blog site.

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