‘Greed is Good': The World According to MTN

“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Geed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind”

- Gordon Gecko in the movie ‘Wall Street


 

A time is fast approaching when telling me you are on MTN will lead me to question your ability to make intelligent, analytical and critical life decisions. It will no longer be enough to say, “it’s cheaper: all my friends are there. ” People will value being respected over receiving breadcrumbs.

A couple of weeks back, Vodafone and Zain announced they were lowering their call rates to 8 pesewas a minute, lower than any other network. This is exactly the kind of price war Ghanaians deserve and have been waiting for.

I heard a rumour on Twitter that MTN were going to launch a response that would really raise eyebrows. There was even going to be a campaign to go along with it. I was pessimistic. Typical, I thought. Most of the money will probably go on an expensive ad campaign that their customers would end up paying for. A few days later, the news dropped: MTN was lowering its fees to (drum roll)…

7.5 pesewas a minute!

Yep. That was it. They were beating their competitors by the slimmest margin they could get away with without looking like complete Scrooges. Oh no… but there was more. Their rates would drop to 7.5 pesewas… but only after you have spoken for three minutes.

*Blank stare*

Wow. Pardon me for being completely underwhelmed and leaving my eyebrows set at ‘Vaguely Unamused/Broadly disinterested‘.

MTN was the first telecom network I subscribed to upon moving back to Ghana. I quickly left: I was used to receiving good service in exchange for money. I didn’t see why I had to take my phone to a center to be configured to use their internet package. Nor why my calls kept dropping.  Why I could call someone standing next to me with their phone on and MTN would tell me their phone was off. Nor why my friends and family in London had trouble getting me.

I subsequently explored the other networks and realized they were all as bad as each other, really. MTN is by no means the only telecom provider providing Ghanaians with shoddy services in relation to what we pay for and are promised in return.

However…

MTN does have a near-monopoly on the market. Its market share surpasses that of all the other telecom providers combined. MTN makes more money than its competition in a market in which a lot of money is generally being made. As such, I hold MTN to a higher standard. Sorry MTN, but that’s the price you pay for – well – being so patently well paid.

Through the company’s ubiquitous ad campaigns and promotions, the network generally claims supremacy in everything telecom-related. Yet last week, when MTN had the chance to show genuine leadership and give something back to its customers (besides raffles and giveaways), it completely failed to do so.

7.5 pesewas? Only after 3 minutes?

I’m sorry but if that isn’t Gordon Gecko-like greed, then I don’t know what is. MTN is the biggest telecom network in Ghana and one of Ghana’s richest companies. Not only can they afford to lower their rates a lot lower than 7.5 pesewas, but they can also do without this after-3 minutes nonsense. I would feel so insulted if I was still an MTN customer. Thankfully, I’m not.

MTN’s slogan is ‘Everywhere You Go’. Judging by the Facebook & Twitter conversations I’ve seen since the company made its big announcement, they may as well change it to:

We don’t reeeeeeeally care about you: we are simply here to make money (you gullible, gullible b*****s)

Sadly, the way Ghana is pro-money-over-everything right now, we’d probably understand.

As far as I’m concerned, mobile compatibility (or is it comportability?) cannot come fast enough. Then MTN can experience real market competition/losses… which should in turn make them work harder at providing better services… instead of this slow drift towards becoming a full-time event promotion firm.

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7 thoughts on “‘Greed is Good': The World According to MTN

  1. pol159

    MTN is bigger than Zain, Vodafone, Kasapa and Tigo put together? Didn’t know that.

    But I was happy with Tigo, when I still had a phone, and never once thought of switching network no matter how much pesewas I was going to save in doing so.

    That brings to mind the question of brand loyalty. Does it really exist in Ghana?

    Reply
  2. charles.anaman@gmail.com

    We just need to create our own small Telecom networks that won’t ad more pple than the system can support.
    regional (kumasi-only, cape coast-only)networks that can be linked by reasonable roaming agreements should be licensed to break up the markets and create local competition. and some smaller ISPs willing to put the work into rolling out wireless data services in the entertainment districts. all the food locations should have some kinda of wimax\wifi-N connectivity.

    Reply
  3. hossunM

    Maybe owning an MTN sim is seen as sleek and like you explained “question your ability to make intelligent, analytical and critical life decisions”. I remember when I got my first MTN number, it was for 25 GH cedis in 2004 which was money for a SIM card. Numbers like OneTouch were going for as much as 150 Ghana cedis. Telecom industry in Ghana is targeting the mass..and here in Ghana a very large %’age of middle and lower class outweigh the elite. So reducing rates will surely resonate in the market.
    I was one of the people who grabbed a Zain sim as soon as they launched..I don’t even remember using it after that and Im still on MTN. The 3 min and lower rates don’t matter because MTN targeted the youth and grew with them. If you noticed many people who started with MTN are still keeping their first numbers. It was never about switching cost..I mean with 1 GH cedi you can switch more than 10 times a day. Nevertheless in the rural areas they dont care about services and all. They need a cell phone and any network to communicate even if it takes them to change sims every time. Those who worry and follow up with low call rates are definitely not the business men. The MD of you name it won’t switch to Vodafone just because of calling rates.

    Reply
  4. Kofi Ghana

    I FIND THAT TO BE GOOD NEWS. A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IN DEMAND AND SUPPLY WOULD NOT LET THIS BE SURPRICE THING. IT IS EVEN BETA WHEN THE MARKET IS OPEN AND THERE ARE SUBSTITUTES THAT THE AVERAGE GHANAIAN CAN CHOOSE FROM. U MAY HAVE FORGOTN NOT TOO LONG AGO WHEN ONETOUCH HAD ALMOST MONOPOLY MARKET IN GHANA, A CHIP WAS A MILLION AND OVER CEDIS. I WISH WE WILL HAVE A SUBSTITUTE FOR THE SO CALLED ECG. IT IS NOT GREED THAT IS GOOD AS IT SEEM FROM ABOVE BUT U SHOULD KNOW THAT EVERYBOBY WANTS TO MAKE MONEY, AND THAT IS THE SOLE AIM OF EVERY BUSINESS. BUT HOWEVER THEY WAY/MEANS U SEEK TO GET UR MONEY MIGHT MAKE U GREEDY, WHICH IS NEVA A GOOD ATTRIBUTE. EVERY INTENTION WITH GREED BECAMES EVIL. I HEARD SOME COMPANIES BY OTHERS SIM AND BURY, BURN, BUMP THEM. BUT I SAY THE ONE WHO PULLS THE KNIFE DIES BY THE SAME.

    Reply
    1. Kobby Post author

      Kofi, I said “greed is good ” as an ironic statement… Of course I don’t mean that it is actually good. And of course I know that businesses intend to make money. But there has to be a balance. And I think MTN didn’t show as much balance as they could have in that situation. So I said it. Anyway, you are entitled to your opinion. And I to mine.

      Reply

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