Don’t Pay More when Buying Airtime Scratch Cards. Read this!

To be or not to be cheated out of your airtime retailing price? That is the question on everyone’s lips these days. In a bizarre turn of events, airtime scratch card vendors over the weekend effected an unsanctioned Airtime Scratch Card price hike across all networks. Mostly affected are telecom subscribers in upcountry.

Say, you bought airtime worth UGX 500, the retailer will charge you UGX 100 extra.The more airtime you buy, the higher the topup is, believe it or not. Most affected are people living in the countryside. Being Uganda, we wouldn’t be surprised if this trend catches fire until underlying issues are finally resolved.

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How Airtime scratchcards are distributed

Airtime Scratchcard distribution chain

Before we continue, let us explain the distribution chain for airtime scratchcards. Telecoms send PIN data in electronic form to Card Printers. These print the data onto scratch cards which are then stored in Warehouses. After this process is done, Wholesale Distributors pick up the baton and do what they do best. They distribute these scratchcards countrywide to Agents who supply the airtime to Retailers. Being the last link in the chain, Retailers then sell the Airtime to the End-users.

Commission cut-backs

While we are not privy to the commission rates, the rumor mill says Distributors previously earned a percentage commission of 7%, now reduced to 4% on selling the airtime to Agents. This burden was then passed down to the Agents who now earn a measly 2.5% commission from the previous 5%. The Retailers claim that this price burden is inevitably passed down to their customers to make it worth their while. So when they charge an extra UGX 100 on each scratchcard, it’s a desperate struggle for survival.

Should you pay more?

Definitely not! Whatever is going on between the Telecoms and their distribution chain is an internal wrangle that must not be passed onto the end users. Telecoms actually do have the final say in this matter and by the looks of things, this is an illegal surcharge. The likes of MTN Uganda and Airtel Uganda have recommended that their subscribers load airtime from Mobile Money. Other avenues include services like PayWay which have so far not been affected by this…covfefe (read katogo)

This issue is temporary, we hope. As it’s being resolved, we recommend alternate means of airtime recharge:

  • Official telecom dealer shops
  • Mobile Money airtime recharge
  • Electronic Payment options (Payway, e.t.c.)