Beware unexpected MTN out-of-bundle charges

Once certain MTN bundles are depleted, customers’ airtime will be depleted at the in-bundle rate until the original bundle would have expired.

This was confirmed by the mobile network operator following a complaint from an MTN customer.

The customer explained to MyBroadband that once their data bundle had been depleted, their airtime was depleted at the same price per MB that they had paid for the bundle itself.

They said that in order to avoid this happening, they had to actively opt-out of this feature.

They said they only discovered that this was the reason their airtime was being depleted when they received an SMS that asked them to change their out-of-bundle settings.

MTN responds

MyBroadband asked MTN for comment, and they investigated the situation using the reader’s phone number.

The network operator determined that what had happened to the customer was not a mistake, but was instead due to how certain data bundles work.

“Customers who have not made an election to opt into out-of-bundle or opt-out of out-of-bundle will continue to be charged the in-bundle rate of their data bundle until the data bundle expiry date after it is depleted,” said MTN executive for corporate affairs Jacqui O’Sullivan.

“This is only available on a select number of data bundles and is still being rolled out on other data bundles.”

When MyBroadband asked the mobile operator if this was allowed in terms of ICASA’s out-of-bundle regulations, it said that it was.

MTN said this billing structure is in line with regulation 8B(2) of the End-user and Subscriber Service Charter Regulations, which states the following:

“Where an end-user does not opt-in to out-of-bundle data charge as per regulation 8B(1)(c) above, a Licensee must not permit any out-of-bundle data usage by an end-user until such time that an end-user purchases new data bundles or opt-in to out-of-bundle usage. In the event that an end-user does not make an election, whether to opt-in or opt-out of out of bundle usage, the Licensee may either immediately terminate data services or continue to provide data services, provided that the provision of the service shall be on the same terms and conditions applicable under in-bundle usage.”

Out-of-bundle billing regulations

The End-User and Subscriber Service Charter was amended by ICASA in February 2019.

These regulations force mobile operators to roll over unused data and prevent automatic out-of-bundle data billing.

Instead, networks must provide consumers with an option to opt-in or opt-out of out-of-bundle data billing.

The changes also ensured that mobile operators must now provide consumers with an option to opt-out of usage depletion notifications for voice, SMS, and data services.

These regulations do not apply to MVNOs, resellers, or other non-licensees.

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Beware unexpected MTN out-of-bundle charges