Over the past few days local mobile network operator, Econet Wireless went to a lot of effort to notify subscribers that it would be discontinuing its promotions due to the fact that they hadn’t been approved by the regulator, POTRAZ, to go beyond the 31st of July 2016.
Though the announcement wasn’t clear on which promotions would be suspended, additional information from Econet (and a look at the USSD menu) pointed to the 7X Promotion as well as the double data offer.
More than just an announcement
There shouldn’t be much to all of this, really. Econet is supposed to be just another licensed mobile network operator sticking to the rules and offering a service only for as long as it’s allowed to. However, this is more than just an announcement.
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For years, Econet’s relationship with POTRAZ has been turbulent, marred by a number of incidents that include restrictions placed on the operator for attempting to impede competition through unfair promotions, to legal action such as the $132 million lawsuit that Econet filed against the operator at the beginning of 2016.
An extensively communicated announcement on the termination of a promotion (this is usually done through posts on social media) with fingers pointed at the regulator looks a lot like Econet’s latest shot at vilifying POTRAZ. It’s as if Econet is saying,
We really wanted to give all those freebies but the regulator won’t let us.
It’s Econet’s cheeky way of letting subscribers know that when it comes to delivering a better deal, there’s always going to be some red tape and subscribers should know who to blame.At the same time, it’s not just about shining some light on who’s good and who’s bad in this picture.
The wording of the announcement has likely been based on Econet’s considerable investment in the 7X Promotion and the Econet WiFi service through a massive product awareness campaign supported by extensive media coverage and national outreach exercises.
A failure to recoup the investment made on the promotion because of regulatory restrictions could have been enough to make such an announcement.
Subscribers are the biggest losers
When all has been said and done, though, the biggest losers are the subscribers who are disadvantaged by any sort of bad blood between an active service provider and the regulator.
In the absence of a more lenient pricing regime on telecoms services (especially broadband – POTRAZ and all the operators are guilty parties in all of this) any sort of promotion that offers bonuses and benefits to subscribers should be green lit.
When it’s suspended or terminated the loss isn’t just felt by the operator, but by the ordinary person.