TCRA penalizes telecom firms for ‘fleecing’ customers

03Mar 2016
Ndeninsia Lisley
The Guardian
TCRA penalizes telecom firms for ‘fleecing’ customers

The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) has ordered five major telecommunication companies operating in the country to pay 112 million/- in fines for providing poor services and supposedly fleecing their customers.

TCRA Director General Dr Ally Simba

Addressing journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday, TCRA director general Dr Ally Simba named the companies as Airtel Tanzania Limited, Benson Information Limited (trading as Smart), Millicom International Cellular Tanzania Limited (trading as Tigo), Vodacom Tanzania Limited, and Zanzibar Telecom Limited (trading as Zantel).

Dr Simba said they had been found guilty of failing to comply with service quality regulations by preventing network hitches and deducting service charges directly from customer accounts without providing the intended services or products.

Vodacom has been fined 27m/-, Tigo and Zantel 25m/- each, Airtel 22.5m/-, and Smart 12.5m/-, the TCRA boss stated. He added that the fines must be paid before the end of March, or the non-compliant firms will face sterner action.

“All (mobile phone service) operators should ensure that their services are in compliance with the requirements of the Quality of Service (QoS) regulations within a period of six months”, Dr Simba said, further explaining that “should the licensee fail to honor the order, the authority shall proceed to take further legal and regulatory action against them”.

On the exact nature of the offences said to have been committed last year, Dr Simba explained: “When customers tried to make a call, they were told the number was not available or not reachable, although the regulator could see that the number was actually on.”

“Also, customers were being charged for calls they didn’t make, short text messages (SMSes) that didn’t go through, and data bundles they didn’t use.”

He said the companies appeared before the authority on December 28 last year and admitted to have failed to comply with QoS perimeter targets, as ascertained by TCRA in an October to December survey of the Dar es Salaam service area.

Meanwhile, the authority has also fined two local transportation companies, Azam Marine and Rifaro Africa Limited, 5m/- and 10m/- respectively for failed to abide with regulatory regulations.

According to Dr Simba, Azam Marine was penalized for operating a letter and parcel courier service between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar without having a proper messenger license. The company has since promised to stop the service for now and shown willingness to apply for a license.

Rifaro Africa Ltd had neglected to renew its certificate of numbering resource assignment after it expired in July 2015. The company uses the certificate to create an SMS-based application to link with its website and collect information from airtime agents.

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