Vodafone Egypt might withdraw price increase: Minister

Marwa Hussein, Tuesday 22 Jan 2013

Vodafone Egypt has increased the prices of its prepaid mobile cards by 15 per cent, causing consumers anxiety

Vodofone Egypt
(Photo: Ahram Online archive)

On Sunday, Vodafone Egypt raised the prices of its prepaid mobile credit cards by 15 per cent, causing anger among some customers.

Some retailers took advantage of the situation, raising prices of all prepaid mobile cards, including those of the two other mobile operators of the country, Mobinil and Etisalat. 

In light of the problem, Egypt's newly-appointed minister of telecommunications, Atef Helmy, held a meeting with the three companies and the head of the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (NTRA) on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

"Vodafone is revising the price increase of prepaid cards in its latest promotional offer and the feasibility of the perpetuation of the offer in the market for the benefits of the consumers," the minister said in a press release.  

Cards worth LE10 are now sold at between LE11.5 to LE12, while LE100 cards have reached LE115, making them over two dollars more expensive than before.

Although only Vodafone has announced a price raise, many users of the three main mobile operators reported not finding prepaid cards available to buy in shops. The government responded by blaming shop owners. 

Mobinil and Etisalat cards are available at their old prices at official outlets of the two companies, but not generally at kiosks and other retailers.

The unprecedented rise of mobile call costs provoked anger among many consumers, and a flood of angry comments was posted on Vodafone's official Twitter account.

"People do not have enough money to eat and you are raising prices," said a user.

In replies posted on the official Vodafone Twitter account, the company implied that the price increases were covering taxes which were no longer included in the price of cards.

Vodafone also announced that the new prices included a promotional offer giving more free call minutes to Vodafone numbers.

The National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (NTRA) denied any increase of taxes on prepaid cards in a press release. 

"We approved the price rise Vodafone asked for; the two other companies have not raised their prices. It is a free competition. Vodafone has to decide whether its offer will support its interests or not," Amr Badawy, head of NTRA, told Ahram Online. 

Short link: