Usually when a country’s telecoms regulatory body issues out a directive to operators, there’s compliance. Maybe some mourning and whining about it not being in the interest of customers and the operators themselves, but still compliance. Seldom do you hear of an operator defying a regulatory directive. So we are surprised that Econet has chosen the defiance path on the order they got from POTRAZ this week to stop the Buddie Zone promotion and revert to the old tariffs by Friday – today.
We have been making test calls to mobile numbers both on the Econet network and on the Telecel network. The latest we made, about 40 minutes ago, was to a Telecel number and the tariff per minute we noticed was 11.75 cents: before the call the airtime credit balance was 1.6503 and after, 1.5328. Now since the order apparently was for Econet to revert to 25 cents per minute tariffs “by Friday”, this spells defiance.
On Wednesday when we interviewed the Econet CEO on the matter asking him what they were going to do following the directive, his response was: “Let me just emphasize that, they [customers] have been enjoying Buddie Zone, and they will continue enjoying Buddie Zone, because we see nothing wrong with the offering that we have done.”
How however said that there could be some misunderstanding between Econet and the regulator regarding the nature of the promotions and dynamic tariffing.
When POTRAZ issued the directive 3 days ago they didn’t specify what kind of penalty Econet would be hit with for non-compliance. Alfred Marisa, the POTRAZ deputy director general later said this week there are stipulated penalties according to a statutory instrument (We have no information on which one yet) for implementing unapproved tariffs as well as advertising unapproved tariffs. Both rules that according to POTRAZ, Econet apparently flouted.
Update: It’s 24 August 2013, 1020hrs. We just tested the tariff of calls to other networks and as of now the Buddie Zone 10 cents tariff is still applying.