Cell C, what have you done?

Cell C recently performed well in MyBroadband’s 2016 war drive, with test results showing that the network has improved its coverage and performance over the past year.

It also achieved the highest average download speed in our drive test, and offered impressive LTE coverage.

However, cellphone bill optimisation service Tariffic recently told MyBroadband that it has noticed a big change in Cell C’s contract options over the past year.

Where the network’s contract packages used to be easy to understand, Cell C’s new Epic post-paid offering is difficult by comparison.

As the tables below show, you pay one amount, get a different amount of airtime, and then get Cell C’s most expensive contract tariffs.

You also can’t use the airtime to buy data or SMS bundles.

Cell C Epic contract packages

Post-paid and hybrid package Fee Included airtime
Epic 100 R69 R100
Epic 150 R99 R150
Epic 200 R129 R200
Epic 350 R229 R350
Epic 500 R339 R500
Epic 650 R449 R650
Epic 1000 R699 R1,000

Cell C Epic and Pinnacle post-paid tariffs

The table below compares the tariffs of Cell C’s newest post-paid price plans: Epic and Pinnacle.

While Pinnacle contracts offer better value than Epic, they are aimed at high-end users – with the first Pinnacle tier offering 600 minutes and 1GB of data per month.

OOB rates Epic Pinnacle
Data 99c/MB 15c/MB
Voice R1.89/min R1.50/min
SMS R0.50/msg R0.15/msg

Controlling behaviour with cellphone deals

In addition to introducing contract packages that are difficult to understand, Cell C also structured its offerings in a way that drive subscribers towards Epic contracts.

First, Cell C introduced its Epic contracts along with the Contract Buyout offer. Initially, subscribers who wanted to make use of Contract Buyout had to switch to an Epic contract.

The network has also dramatically reduced the number of devices offered on its older contract packages, including dropping its higher-end phones from Straight Up and SmartChat.

A summary of the number of device deals available through Cell C’s website is given in the table below.

Number of smartphone deals on Cell C contracts
Epic 40
Epic Topup 16
Pinnacle 15
SmartChat 2
SmartChat TopUp 0
Straight Up 5
Straight Up Topup 5
Infinity Select 68
Chatmore 0
Hi 5 0

Cell C was asked to comment on whether it is grandfathering its old contracts, and why it has moved away from easy-to-understand packages like Straight Up, but the company did not respond by the time of publication.

Update: Cell C has provided the following statement.

Our suite of products are built around consumer needs and lifestyle as well as market research that is conducted from time to time.

As the market has become more data centric, we introduced different plans to suit various needs – voice plans for the voice centric customers; data plans for the data centric customers; value plans for those who prefer to control their spend on voice, data or SMS as well as unlimited plans.

Customers prefer choice and flexibility, and we have provided them with the best variety of affordable products offering great value for money. All our deals are designed based on customer demand and based on Cell C’s growth over the last few years, customer clearly like our offers.

It is also important to note that both Tariffic and Research ICT Africa’s latest research reports confirm that Cell C still offers some of the best contract deals available in the market.

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Cell C, what have you done?