Zimbabwe: Telephone Usage Still High reports TelOne
Zimbabwe fixed line telephone service provider TelOne says since announcing the reduction of tariffs for all local calls to US$0.07 from US$0.10 in March, billing units had increased to unprecedented levels.
Responding to customers questions regarding the high bills from TelOne, public relations officer Collins Welbesi said telephone usage had not declined since dollarisation.
"Kindly note that telephone utilisation has not decreased with dollarisation. In fact the billed units for April 2009 are 25 percent above the November/December 2008 average. In Zimbabwe, we are seeing heavy utilisation levels of about 25,000 units per month for residential customers," he said. Customers have received bills as high US$3 000 and one customer who called alleged that his bill for April was US$4,000.
A survey in Harare has shown that TelOne customers are complaining of being given a raw deal. "We feel robbed and disappointed by the billing system TelOne is using.
"Honestly, how can a home telephone bill reach a high tariff as US$3 000," said one customer who resides in Dzivarasekwa. According to TelOne, the average local telephone usage per month at household level is 100 units, which translates to 300 minutes per month.
"At the local rate of US$0,07 per minute the average bill for a household is U$21. It must be stressed categorically that those customers whose bills are ranging between US$300 and US$700 as stated in your inquiry, did utilise the phone," said Mr Welbesi.
Bills for one customer residing in Greendale, Athlone stood at US$447 for January combined with February charges. In March the bills surged up to US$609 and after the service provider announced the reduction of cost per minute for all local calls, the April bill stood at US$914.
However, despite these high charges the customer said he only managed to pay what he could afford for all these months above and his phone has not been cut off. "I only managed to pay US$20 for each month from February up to April, luckily my phone has not been cut off," said a customer.