In June 2018, an MTN customer contacted MyBroadband stating that he was charged for toll-free calls on his contract SIM.
The customer owned two contract SIMs and two prepaid SIMs, of which only one contract SIM was incorrectly billed for calls to a toll-free number.
The MTN customer said the mobile operator had been charging him for calls to his toll-free medical aid number for the past 18 months.
ICASA regulations assert that calls to toll-free numbers must be free of charge for the caller, irrespective of the network used in the communication.
This rule applies to all toll-free numbers in the 080 number range.
MTN responded to the issue and said it was investigating the problem, as all calls to toll-free numbers should be free of charge – regardless of origination fees with other operators.
“These calls have been free of charge to our customers since 24 September 2016, as per ICASA’s Numbering Plan Regulations,” MTN Executive for Corporate Affairs Jacqui O’Sullivan told MyBroadband.
The affected MTN customer had also filed a complaint with ICASA regarding the billing of toll-free calls, however.
Following the article on the matter, ICASA has responded and shed more light on the toll-free billing issue.
MTN told the regulator there was an issue with toll-free billing, which was exclusive to its Made for Me contract offering.
The billing problem has since been fixed by MTN, which added it will reimburse customers affected by the incorrect billing.
“As set out in the complaint, the complainant alleged that MTN was charging standard call rates for toll-free numbers dialled from his MTN contract line,” said ICASA.
“MTN investigated the complaint and ascertained that there is a defect affecting the MTN Made for Me post-paid product resulting in the incorrect billing of toll-free calls.”
“Upon discovering the defect, MTN implemented a fix to resolve the problem on Sunday, 1 July 2018,” said ICASA.
While MTN said it would credit affected customer accounts with the equivalent number of minutes incorrectly billed, it noted that this would take a fair amount of time.
Billing refunds for calls which were placed more than six months ago would also be difficult to refund.
“This process will take time, as many call data records will need to be extracted to perform a reconciliation,” said ICASA.
“Furthermore, records are only available for the last six months.”
When asked how it plans to refund affected customers, MTN told MyBroadband it was working on the issue and will finalise a conclusive report.