MTN Uganda CEO Brian Gouldie speaks out on data hiccups, spam SMS and tax compliance

After the social media wars that saw thousands of MTN customers take to twitter to express their dissatisfaction with MTN services, MTN Uganda yesterday held a press conference to address all the issues that customers had earlier raised. The MTN CEO Brian Gouldie pointed out that contrary to the belief that MTN wants to rip people off, they are a company with values and wouldn’t want to take money they didn’t earn. The issue was more a logic failure caused by an upgrade they had made earlier.

He emphasized that despite the temporary challenges that the brand has experienced with its mobile data solution, MTN remains committed to pioneering tailored solutions that address customer’s needs, in both a responsible but sustainable manner.

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In brief, Brian addressed 3 major issues. The data loading problem, the spam SMSa and the allegations of tax evasion.

On Loading Data Bundles

One of the biggest complaints was not being able to load data bundles. MTN identified the issue and cited multiple data bundle activation failures which cause multiple charges, delayed data bundle loading, failed activation, Inaccurate data bundle billing and bundle charged but not activated.

According to Gouldie, between 30th June and 16th October 2014, 203, 798 incidents were reported and another 156,803 were identified for the period Oct 17th to Nov. 17th bringing the total number of complaints to 360,893 all of which have been verified and refunded. The affected customers represent approximately 10% of MTN’s total data subscriber base now standing in excess of 3.4 million.

Mr. Gouldie reported that MTN has proactively refunded all affected customers to a tune of Ushs. 778,102,469 of lost airtime. He added that MTN will continue to identify, verify and refund all other similar issues on a case by case basis. In addition to the rebates, MTN has gone further and given data bundles to customers who might have been affected by the intermittent occurrences on MTN’s data services.

281,084 MTN data customers have also received various bundle sizes of MTN’s Mobile Internet bundle types (daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly), to the tune of Ushs. 213,729,050. Combined MTN has refunded approximately one billion shillings (shs. I Billion) worth of data bundles and airtime.

On Spam SMS

Meanwhile, MTN Uganda has also implemented a content management solution. The solution will manage the distribution and billing of content from 3rd party content providers to MTN customers. CMS provides features that will enable MTN customers to accept or stop promotional SMS messages and subscription alerts of various information like current news and sports news, relationship/love tips and service updates among others.

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We have written more comprehensively on the SMS spam issue in which Brian assured customers that with the power now in their hands, there will be no more spam.

On Tax Evasion

There have been allegations of MTN evading tax to which URA initiated investigation on the telecom giant. Nada Anderson the MD at Star Leo Advertising and a social Influencer recently took to twitter to challenge the companies tax compliance because she wasn’t being given her Tax invoices for purchases she makes at various MTN stores.

Ugandan Tech blog PCtech Magazine quotes Brian on the Tax issue;

We get audited by both internal and external Auditors and PWC handles audits for MTN Uganda. We have been awarded by Uganda Revenue Authority(URA) as the top tax payers numerous times.

To add on this URA has been validating our tax returns the past 15 years, these awards actually mean we pay money and comply by submitting our Tax declarations for VAT, Customs Duty, Corporate and Excise Taxes,” In 2013 MTN paid 336 billion Shillings and they anticipate to pay around 439 Billion in 2014. The issue of the 13.4 Billion shilling was resolved to 1.3 Billion which MTN Uganda didn’t agree with, but paid anyway

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Image: PcTech Magazine


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