Sunday, October 26, 2008

Netone subscribers cry foul

Private Property

CELLULAR phone network provider, NetOne and its agents – Zellco Cellular and Firstel, last week shocked its customers when it announced the suspension of cheque payment to settle phone bills, insisting on cash only, it has been learnt.

Some of the three companies subscribers expressed dismay and anger following the decision to scrap off the use of cheques when making payments for the contract lines.

The companies sent the announcement via its sms facility informing clients that it would now require payments to be made strictly in cash and it threatened to terminate the lines of those who would fail to comply with the directive by the 23rd of October 2008.

Some angry clients called the Sunday News offices to complain about this arrangement arguing that the companies were being “unreasonable and insensitive” to its clients.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is allowing individuals to withdraw only $50 000 per day to cater for daily chores, while some phone bills were running into millions of dollars.

A Mr Sibanda from Magwegwe North alleged that the network’s motives were suspect and the reasons they had forwarded were “flimsy.”
A notice posted at Firstel advised subscribers to pay in cash as cheques would not be accepted.

According to the notice, the decision was made in order to avoid the inconvenience of receiving invalid RD (refer to the drawer) cheques, high bank charges as well as to supposedly cope with high administrative costs.

Another customer who requested to remain anonymous claimed that he had confronted the Firstel manager to get a proper explanation why they had scrapped off cheque payments but was referred to the Head office in Harare.

After requesting that the network write him a note explaining their position so as to enable him to apply for funds from the RBZ as the daily limit of $50 000 would not suffice, he was again referred to the Head office in Harare.

“It is very frustrating because these people know how much the daily cash limit is. Where do they think we will get the money from?” he quipped.
Most clients refuted the claims of cheques bouncing as they said that was very unlikely since people had now taken to “burning” money and made most payments using cheques. Other networks are still accepting cheques and it appears NetOne is the only network facing challenges in this regard.

Efforts to get comments from the relevant network authorities were in vain as they could not be reached on their mobiles.
Zellco Cellular has also barred all clients that once had cheques referred to drawer not to pay using cheques.

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