MTN told a customer they could upgrade — then tried to charge them penalty fees

The Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) has found in favour of an MTN customer who received a misleading SMS advertisement from the mobile operator.

The message told the subscriber they were eligible for an early upgrade, with no mention of any additional costs for it to be processed.

However, the MTN store he visited to get the upgrade wanted to charge the customer an additional fee for the privilege of upgrading early.

The SMS advertisement, dated 1 March 2022, read, “Dear MTN client, your upgrade is due this month”. The ARB ruled the complainant could not be faulted for believing he was due for the upgrade.

“The complaint was submitted on the 4th of March, so the Complainant must have visited an MTN store somewhere in the first few days in March,” the ARB noted.

While the mobile operator references early upgrade fees in its terms and conditions, it is unclear why the advertisement said the customer’s upgrade was due.

According to the ARB, MTN did not provide feedback despite several follow-ups.

“The Directorate’s only available conclusion is that the advertisement was misleading,” the ARB said.

The ARB ruled that MTN must ensure its communications regarding contract upgrades are sent at the correct time, or indicate that their early upgrades are subject to penalties.

MTN’s executive for corporate affairs, Jacqui O’Sullivan, told MyBroadband that the operator is reworking its messaging to communicate more precisely with its customers.

“MTN has noted the ruling by the Advertising Regulatory Board and is in the process of reworking the messaging to ensure that it is as clear as possible when communicating with its customers,” she said.

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MTN told a customer they could upgrade — then tried to charge them penalty fees