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By: Ashiru Ayoola.  
 Published  July 29th, 2012

Just like the normal days when the urge to call ones relatives becomes the determinant factor to purchasing recharge cards, so was the feeling I had which made me decide to buy One thousand Five hundred naira worth of recharge cards  of one of the leading Nigeria’s telecommunication company.  Each  of the card were partitioned into Five hundred Naira each. The individual recharge cards had a sequential serial number such as number One comes before number Two and so on. The pin or recharge codes differ (which is the normal way it ought to be). At exactly 8:00 pm that day I decided to load the recharge cards to my mobile phones then I picked the first one punched the recharge digits plus the code, my phone accepted it and my balance was credited with the first Five hundred naira, I tried the second one it entered just as the first one and my account balance reflected a Thousand naira, when I decided to punch the last recharge card which I did I realized something strange, at first my account reflect that I had N0.62 then suddenly it changed to N500.62 then suddenly it metamorphosed to N1000.62 . At first I felt it was a network problem so I tried the last recharge card again just to confirm it again but to my surprise it said “This card has been used previously”, then I tried the other recharge cards again thinking I had repeated “a loaded card” twice but to cut the story short, the same thing happened. Immediately I looked around “staringly confused” no one to witness this abracadabra with me. I checked my account balance it was N1000.62 instead of N1500.62 so I put a call to the customer care line (which took me more than 3 hours to reach), then a customer care representative picked up the call and she ask “what the problem was” then I explained to her exactly what happened then she told me to call the serial numbers of each card, I called the first one 450428307751690 then she said that was credited into my account at exactly 8:02pm, I called the second one 450428307751691, she said it was also credited into my account at exactly 8:04pm then I called the last one 450428307751692 then she told me “that was not credited into my account” that it was credited into another person’s phone at exactly 8:06pm (which was the same time I punched the digits) , thinking she can have a better explanation for it then I asked her  what went wrong that I scratched the recharge cards myself all by myself and I loaded it myself. Then she said she has no explanation for it that it was credited to another person’s number. I asked  her “how come!” but she said her job is to tell me the status of my recharge card full stop! Then I hanged up the phone.

The question is how come someone else's phone got the last recharge card? How possible can someone else purchase the same recharge card with the same pin code, with the same serial number?  Finally, how come he or she loads it at the same time? The answer is ,”no answer” from the customer care representative. 

The issue is that a fraud has been perpetuated. This is not the first time I will be buying recharge card when you try to load it the recharge card says something like “network error” or some mysterious electronic slogans  but eventually the customer care will tell you it has been loaded by someone else. I have met quite a lot of people who have fall victim of this electronic fraud which is a part of the lackadaisical attitude of the telecommunication companies who fail to put all necessary mechanism in place to monitor the way recharge cards are printed and secured for customer’s consumption. Just recently the National Assembly sanctioned the telecommunication giants due to poor network services which were rendered to Nigerians, which resulted into a network confusion that metamorphosed into disappearance of huge amount of credit units from customers account. It is only in Nigeria where companies can operate the way they feel like because there are no proper and effective consumer standard model.

It is high time the telecommunication operator’s wake up from their slobber by using the so called SIM registration database to solve such recharge cards anomaly. It is also very important that they monitor those recharge cards that are printed on their behalf to ensure that they are properly secured, and sanctioned those who fail to abide by their rules because failure to correct the recharge card electronic pandemic, it may one day lead to several law suit which the telecommunication companies will pay dearly for it.

Finally, our legislatures (most especially the House of Representatives) should please help us put laws in place that will protect consumers in the telecommunication sector, also to help us sanction telecommunication companies who do not monitor and secure customer recharge cards printing and security. Any poor Nigeria might be in a situation where the only thing that can save him or her life is a mere N100 recharge card which may lead to the person giving up the ghost because he or she could not make that vital call.


Ashiru Ayoola

President of  All Nigeria United Nations Students and Youth Association

Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.

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