14th September 2016
The Managing Director
Airtel/ORANGE H/Q SL
RE: LETTER OF COMPLIANT OVER CHEATING OF SUBSCRIBERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY
First of all we want to welcome ORANGE for deciding to come and do business in Sierra Leone. From our research into the background of your company, we have been made aware of the quality of your services in other countries where you are operating and we hope your acquisition of Airtel, which is undisputedly the largest mobile phone operator in Sierra Leone, would herald the advent of 4G services for eager subscribers across the country and ensure Sierra Leoneans reap the real benefits of the fibre optic.
We also want to thank the past management of Airtel for adhering to our calls over the media for them to stop cheating subscribers, failing which we would launch protests in all Airtel officers across the Country.
Sir, it is with a heavy heart that we are writing your company this letter as we have realised that even though fines were recently levied by NATCOM on Airtel for the exploitative way they have been doing business, nothing has changed. Sadly, we are still being reminded of the years of cheating that Airtel unleashed on poor unsuspecting subscribers since its inception in Sierra Leone. A culture of blatant cheating has pervaded the operations of this Mobile operator from Celtel to Zain, from Zain to Airtel and now from Airtel to Orange.
Sir, as an organisation that stands up for the rights of poor and vulnerable Sierra Leoneans, we think this cheating has reached unacceptable proportions and must stop NOW!
We have information that subscribers across the country have been complaining about their credits being cut without their knowledge, and about your company selling them fake packages like ‘hello tunes’ and LOC services, all designed to rip subscribers off their hard earned credits. Your company is also charging subscribers for every money transfer on the Airtel Money wallet. That was not the practice when the Airtel Money wallet was introduced. Therefore, we think it is exploitative and unacceptable.
Mr Manager Sir, we are aware that Mark Zuckerberg the owner of Facebook and WhatsApp has offered poor countries free service for these two products and Sierra Leone happens to be one of them but to our dismay your company is still charging subscribers for fees for WhatsApp and Facebook. This in itself is blatant cheating and very criminal on the part of your company sir.
We have received several complains of cheating in various forms, and we can authoritatively provide you one such complaint from a subscriber called Mr Joseph Dumbuya, using the number 078584439. Please see attached. Mr. Dumbuya like most other customers, made official complaints to your staff but nothing was done. This is how subscribers have been suffering from the exploitative practices of your company.
We also want to unequivocally state here that AIRTEL have been cheating customers and not NATCOM. In fact we were of the conviction that your company should have been forced to give free service to the subscribers instead of paying the fine to NATCOM because as it is now, the subscribers have been left in the cold without realising the tiniest residual benefit of the penalty.
Furthermore, we would like to draw your attention to a recent research conducted by the World Bank on Mobile phone operators in the country where it was revealed that Sierra Leoneans pay the highest tariff or top-up. This further lends credence to the many claims about the exploitative way mobile companies have been doing business in our Country
In view of all of the above, the Management of the Native Consortium and Research Centre and the membership of the Native Think Tank kindly request that your company comes out with a clear statement on this or else we will consult our legal team and take this matter to court for criminal litigation.
We want to conclude by stating that with the coming of ORANGE, poor subscribers in Sierra Leone are looking forward to better quality service. If we suspect any cheating of customers we will not only exercise our fundamental right by protesting against your company but we shall also take legal actions to claim damage.
We hope to hear from you on the issues raised at your earliest convenience.
Very best regards
Edmond Abu (Jr.) 076-617240