South Africans who, due to the state of restriction, realize they will struggle to pay their cellphone bill for next month, can apply for relief from MTN, Cell C and Vodacom.
This applies to individual clients, as well as companies that have taken out a large number of contracts on behalf of their employees. Each case will be judged on its own merits.
This type of debt relief is similar to measures that local banks have announced to assist their clients in this difficult economic time.
However, most South African cellphone users are on a prepaid contract and cannot apply for this debt relief.
Vodacom and MTN each have more than 6 million contract customers. Cell C has 1.1 million and Telkom 2.1 million. Some subscribers may have contracts with more than one service provider.
All service providers except Telkom have confirmed that they will assist their contract customers who are stuck to pay their bills for April and May (and even longer).
Vodacom will be favored by contract customers provided they meet certain requirements.
Eligible clients should send an email describing how they are financially affected by the state of restriction or as a business how the restriction has negatively impacted its revenue.
The letters should be as complete as possible, a spokeswoman for the network said.
Vodacom did not indicate what it considered to be the “qualifying criteria” for assistance, but rather that it would assess each application individually.
Customers who apply for assistance may also not already be in arrears with payments to Vodacom. Accounts over 60 days in arrears will not qualify.
Once Vodacom receives the customer’s application and supporting letter, the service provider will contact the customer and discuss his options.
MTN will also assist contract clients. Their contracts can be downgraded to a cheaper option.
According to a spokesperson, it will be offered to any client who now calls for help from MTN. In other words, individuals as well as businesses can apply.
The service provider will, in consultation with the subscriber, determine what he can afford to pay and enter into an agreement accordingly, the spokesman said.
Subscribers must be on good terms with MTN with no arrears. The assistance will also be subject to certain terms and conditions that will be discussed with the client.
MTN customers can apply from next week by calling 135.
Cell C says it has already established criteria that a client must meet in order to be eligible for support due to the effects of Covid-19.
The service provider will handle each application on its own merits. Like MTN, Cell C will also offer to downgrade a client to a cheaper contract.
Subscribers who cannot afford to pay their account for whatever reason can also follow existing procedures and apply for a pay vacation, a spokeswoman said.
Cell C’s call center can be reached at 084 135.
According to a spokesperson for Telkom, this service provider has not yet decided to offer a payment holiday to its contract customers who are currently suffering.
“As with any credit agreement, customers who cannot afford their payments can contact us to make arrangements to repay their debt.”