The National Consumer Rights Association (NACORA) has condemned mobile service providers in the country for charging exorbitant prices which the association described as a violation of consumer rights.
These mobile service providers include Liquid Telecom, Econet Wireless, Netone, Telecel, Telone, Africom and Zol Zimbabwe who provide voice and data services.
NetOne charges $20 for 1.5Gb of data and Econet Wireless $35 for the same amount of data. This translates to just above USD5.00 and USD9.00 per gig per month respectively using the official exchange rate.
NACORA spokesperson Effie Ncube described the cost of data and voice calls in the country as outrageous and senseless.
“We have noted consumers are being short-changed by service providers,” he noted.
“There are circumstances beyond consumer’s control where there is no internet connection. One would have bought data but cannot use it, by the time the internet gets back up the data would have expired. Our service providers need to look into these situations and give people value for money”.
“This will further punish the already overburdened consumer struggling to survive in the harsh economic climate.
“There is no justification whatsoever in raising the cost of voice and data when it is already among the most expensive in the world even with the introduction of a new exchange rate regime”.
Ncube said the pricing regime in the telecommunications sector has impacted negatively on the cost of doing business.
“This will also deepen poverty and pain especially among women, workers, rural folks, young people and students who are the poorest in the country.
“Given the centrality of telecommunication in modern life, with the rise of the cost of voice calls and data, the cost of living has again risen and in the process eroding disposable incomes across the board,” said Ncube.
He expressed concern over how the Government has turned a blind eye to such consumer woes.
“We believe a government can be pro-business and pro-consumer at the same time. It can protect the consumer from unfair business practices while allowing job-creating businesses to flourish,” said Ncube.
“The cost of doing business must be balanced with the cost of living. The problem in our situation is that the government has completely abandoned the consumer and is siding with big business. By leaving the consumer and small businesses at the mess of greedy market forces, the government is failing a critical duty”.
Ncube said their association is weighing options available to the consumer to fight this injustice.
He said they are engaging the government and service providers on the cost of data and voice calls and will soon be approaching the courts for redress of injustices arising from the continuation of default out of bundle browsing and unfair constraints on the transfer and rollover of data.