Data charges on my MTN cell contract jum...

Asked by pwarren on 01-04-2015 12:10:52
Question posted in the Consumer Protection Law category relating to Gauteng

Data charges on my MTN cell contract jumped to R15k in January - normal monthly bill is R2500 and I went in to MTN to ask what for and who from? - No answer could be given as they had to wait for an invoice to be generated. - I turned data off and by the time the invice came on 11th Feb they had debited R51k from our account. Further disputes and letters to MTN achieved nothing insofar as any explanation. our own investigations identified that it was a subsidiary number accumulating the data and not my primary number so turning my number off had no effect - just been debited another R33k this morning.

Have never used my subsidiary number and only checked to find it was missing out of my wallet when we identified that it was linked to my account and accumulating charges (which we did not MTN).

I have three disputes logged with MTN (including suspected fraudulent activity asking them to trace the handset as to who has this subsudiary number) and only response from MTN has been the invoicing is correct!! - No answer to any of my queries as to why not notified until 8 times normal bill, why not suspended when asked - why wrong number was suspended when they did suspend my number February - why no information supplied at time of first query in January - information would have alrerted us to fraudulent activity when the bill was R15k - we have now been charged and paid >R80k as it is a direct debit - despite telling them we do not accept charges continuing while under dispute.

Disputes loged with ICASA but no response from them yet either.

Feel not only prejudiced as a small customer of theirs but inconvenience and cash flow impact on our small business is signiifcant and completely un-fair - and un-necessary - a result only of in-action on part of MTN


Further information relating to Question:

I am going down to MTN head office this afternoon - fact is though its a 150km round trip, we are out of pocket R80k, will cost me my afternoon of time, worried it will start as a new query instead of addressing old ones - will take file with.

Principle issue with me - its bullying by a giant who should be held responsible for ineptitude on its part. - I will accept some charges - we lost the subsidiary card albeit we had never used it so an un-known loss.

Simple fact is early warning and an explanation as to what number was accumulating data would have stopped usage in its tracks.

Information provided by client

Question is :

Have I got a case against MTN for in-action on their part = costs that could have been curtailed
have I got a case for the consequential damages of no phone, overdraft charges, credit record damage, costs incurred in trying to sort this out with MTN.

Answer to the Question

Posted by Att. Patrick on 01-04-2015 16:14:12
Hi there Philip and thank you for your question,

I've seen many many queries of this nature with Vodacom, CellC and MTN. Most of them are the same. i.e. I lost my phone on Friday night, by Saturday lunchtime there had been R5000 of data charges run up.

Legally speaking MTN is perfectly entitled to charge you for any usage that is used on the SIM card. You'll note that the agreement is quite widely worded. They take no liability whatsoever.

If your SIM card is stolen or lost then it is up to you to tell MTN that you lost it and they will stop the usage. If you don't tell them in time, then they will hold you liable for all usage on that SIM card.

You argue that MTN should have let you know that the usage was higher than normal and potentially blocked the usage. That argument won't work since they will argue that it is not their business to monitor your usage and let you know if something is higher than normal - it is up to you. If the SIM card belongs to you, then you are the owner and you are responsible for usage.

Your argument is weakened by the fact that you never realised that the usage was on a subsidiary SIM card, and in fact that the incorrect number was blocked. If you argue that MTN was negligent, then they would certainly point their finger at you and say "but you forgot that you had 2 SIM cards ..."

You need to settle this matter with them. If you put up a good argument they will reverse some (not all) of the charges.

I would say that you have a really good argument for a refund of the data charges incurred for the period January (the day you went to go see them) until 11 February when they generated the invoice. You specifically asked them for assistance; you specifically drew their attention to a potential problem; and they delayed in the matter doing investigations. They should have been able to immediately tell you which number was using the data, and should have blocked that number.

When did you do your investigations? The time period that I'm looking at is about 7 - 8 weeks. Some time in January to 31 March. This is a long long time for things to remain "under investigation". Who was the cause of this delay? If it was them, then you have a good claim against them as per above.

They unfortunately won't care about your cash flow problems.

"Simple fact is early warning and an explanation as to what number was accumulating data would have stopped usage in its tracks."
If you want to sue them in Court for the return of the R81k, you will need to find a legal obligation that they owed you that they breached. e.g. they agreed in the contract to let you know if your account had unusually high usage, and they never did! Then you would have a case. But as I said above their contracts are tight, and place all of the obligations on you to monitor, etc.

"Have I got a case for the consequential damages of no phone, overdraft charges, credit record damage, costs incurred in trying to sort this out with MTN"
Let me know what they say.

If there is a part of the answer which you need more advice on, or clarity please continue in this same thread instead of opening a new question.

Att. Patrick

Please remember this is a dialog if you have follow up questions please use the REPLY button and ask. If I did not answer the question you thought you were asking, please respond with the specific question you wanted answered. I hope you found my answer helpful, and you have finished asking your questions, please click on the GREEN ACCEPT button in order to mark the question as closed.

If you would like to view the entire answer, you will need to either login or register a FREE account.


DISCLAIMER: Advice or answers from Lawyers on SA Legal Advice are not substitutes for the proper advice of an Lawyer. SA Legal Advice is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Lawyer who assists with your question is not your Lawyer, and the response above is not to be considered to be legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains. The responses above are from individual Lawyers, not SA Legal Advice. The site and services are provided “as is”. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service.