MTN about-face on unpopular auto opt-in data bundle plan

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MTN has ditched a controversial automatic data subscription plan. Photo credit:

Cellular network MTN has caved into public pressure and abandoned a plan to automatically subscribe customers to a data bundle at 40c a megabyte when they run out of data.

The plan, due to come into effect this week for millions of the network’s prepaid customers, would have replaced the current automatic out-of-bundle data charges. Many disgruntled MTN users have taken to social media to express their anger.

The outcry appears to have had an effect.

On Friday, 17 May 2019, the network backtracked, with its South African head of consumer business, Mapula Bodibe, saying, “Our customers have made it clear that they do not want the automatic bundle option and we have therefore taken the decision not to implement the change”.

Prepaid customers were due to be opted in to the 1MB bundle on Thursday, 16 May, with contract subscribers to follow suite in early June.

MTN’s about-face now means that customers will be cut off from the internet when their data bundles expire, unless they specifically opt into out-of-bundle data.

The abandoned plan was widely viewed as an attempt by the network to sidestep new rules from the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) aimed at protecting cellular data consumers from high out-of-bundle rates.

“We remain committed to compliance and respect both the intention and spirit of the regulations and laws that govern our sector and we have also heard the concerns raised by our customers in response to this proposed offering,” Bodibe said.

In February Vodacom abandoned a similar plan that had proved equally controversial. –