Mention MTN data to any MTN Uganda customer and you’ll immediately be greeted by an aura of mistrust. That’s because MTN has a big problem it has never admitted, or even worse, fixed.

I once loaded 30GB shared data on a Thursday and by Saturday of the same week, it was already done!

Wait what?

I know you must be as bewildered as I was when I checked my data balance only to be told it was expired.

Screenshot of text message receive when the 30GB shared data was activated.

Internet access is expensive in Uganda

The fact is Internet access data bundles are still very expensive in Uganda. This is a painful reality we have come to live with. As with any other scarce resource, the only way to manage it is to be frugal.

So I do mind my usage. I am aware of applications that take more data than the others and when I choose to use them, I am aware of my estimated usage. For instance I know watching Youtube takes more data than checking e-mails. So when I open Youtube, I am aware of how much data I’ll use.

I also usually set data limits on my MiFi/Router to ensure I don’t overshoot my usage or at least if I am about to, I’ll get alerted by my Internet device. So I am completely in control of my Internet usage to a large extent.

I tweeted MTN about my issue but as usual, large corporations assume that the problem resides with the customer, not with them. I have explained to MTN customer care about my data usage patterns. They demanded screenshots from my phone data manager which I still shared. It was less than 1GB. In fact to be precise, it was just a mere 350MB.

Being a shared data bundle means I share it with a remote team of three people. So naturally I suspected that perhaps one of the members had asymmetrical usage. I immediately contacted my team members to check on their usage. They all confirmed to be they have less than 1GB usage on their devices. These meanwhile are a lot more Tech savvy users abit like me.

However, MTN insists on their assumption that I/we used all the data. We believe this is not true and they have not proved me otherwise.

MTN has a history of contentious data billing

Remember the data gonya campaign?

There was a time when MTN customers ganged up against the telecommunications company in Uganda on what they collectively agreed was questionable data billing practices. MTN went on to fight back with a massive PR campaign instead of addressing legitimate customer issues. This problem exists to this date.

MTN might have lost some customers to Airtel and Africell which responded with “Don’t be cheated” campaign. However, MTN still holds the biggest market share in Uganda.

Moving to Airtel

Having reached a deadlock with MTN, I am shifting my team to Airtel. We all have Airtel sim cards, so the switch won’t be so painful.

It’s not that we have any guarantees that Airtel is any better, but at least they have been less complaints of unscrupulous practices from Airtel. Airtel has shared data bundle, so we can have a shared data plan as a remote working team.

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