Recently there was an uproar about why Airtime scratch card prices were hiked towards the weekend. Outraged parties took to social media to air out their frustrations and some telecoms acknowledged the price hikes but refuted claims about directing these new increments.
Consumers encountered surcharges of at least UGX 100 for every airtime card they tried to purchase. While we have taken time to listen to telecoms and their response of advising subscribers to use alternative payment modes like Mobile Money and Easy Load, their adoption rate remains low compared to the use of physical scratchcards.
Also, one silent side has been the distributors and vendors who perhaps haven’t been given an audience as to why they effected the price hikes.
The vendors speak out
he vendors we have spoken to allege that the directive came from distributors & suppliers whose commission margins reduced too. These pushed the burden to vendors who instead pushed it further to the final consumers. Whereas suppliers used to enjoy a 5% commission from distributors, it has since been revised to half that is 2.5% and these have resorted to selling scratchcards to vendors at near cost price..
As a result, the burden has been extended to the final consumer instead of charging the recommended retail price which is evidently shown on the card.
The recommended alternatives from telecoms are welcome but they can’t outmatch scratch cards that are almost everywhere.
What about the distributors?
Some of the distributors allege that the telecoms reduced their percentage commission from 7% to just 4% of total airtime purchases cutting their bottom line. Until telecoms come out to speak on these allegations, it will remain a mystery to the final consumers at why he/she should buy a UGX 500 or UGX 1000 scratch cards at UGX 600 and UGX 1200 respectively.