Home » Consumer Affairs – FAQ

What parameters to consider when purchasing communication equipment (handset / Mobile phone etc)?

Operators sell a variety of mobile phones that work with their service; sometimes they offer free or discounted phones as part of their promotions. The following parameters should be considered when purchasing communication equipment:

  1. Your budget
  2. Power storage capacities; Nickel Metal Hydride, Lithium Ion and Nickel Cadmium. Lithium Ion batteries are considered better.
  3. Compatibility for SMS, WAP or GPRS etc. if required
  4. Availability of features like vibration, last calls record, phone memory, clock, alarm, calculator, games etc, should be checked before purchase according to your requirement. Some features are network dependent also.
  5. Phone memory, MMC card support capacity and strong battery are important considerations for heavier audio or video files.
  6. Does this handset give me all the features I need, for example, caller ID, Internet services, etc. Is it the right size you want?
  7. Would I be paying for a lot of features and specifications I wouldn’t use?
  8. Is it easy to use? Are the keypads easy to use?
  9. Can the phone be repaired or replaced if it goes wrong or if it is stolen?
  10. Do I need to get the phone insured? How much will that cost?

What should be considered when choosing the service provider?

Every individual has a right to choose the service provider that they prefer or like.  Before deciding on the Mobile Operator, one needs to consider the following:


Network Coverage

Reception in your area.  There are a few different things you can do to find out whether a phone will work properly in your area.  Start by talking to friends, family, and neighbours about which provider they are using.  They can give your valuable insights into whether they like their service.

Coverage –  reception in your area. There are a few different things you can do to find out whether a phone will work properly in your area. Start by talking to friends, family, and neighbours about which provider they’re using. They can give you valuable insights into whether they like their service. Additionally, most service providers have coverage maps you can use to make sure you’re covered in the areas where you need coverage.


Cost of Service

  1. Cost of calls – How do you want to be billed (e.g. pre-paid or post paid)? Do I carry unused credit over to the next month
  2. Do you mainly use the phone to talk or SMS?
  3. Are there any set-up fees for the service?
  4. What additional services are available – and can you make good use of them (e.g. mobile internet, voicemail)?
  5. Cost of text messages (SMSs) – how much do I get charged for this service, how much do I get charged when sending text messages to other network operators, etc.
  6. Cost of handset –You need to check with mobile operator if this is free or not, compare prices of other network operators, check what the features are and determine whether you need them or not as they in most cases come at an extra cost.
  7. Cost of downloading data – if you will be using this service, check what the cost of downloading is.
  8. How are the calls charged? Call costs differ when calling different networks? If yes, then to which network do you make most of your calls?
  9. The type of calls you make. Are they local or international? How long are your calls?
  10. If you make international calls, which countries do you call the most? How often do you make them?
  11. When do you tend to make your calls (time of day, weekday or weekend)? Most service providers divide the day into peak and off-peak periods. The peak period will have a higher charge for the call.


If you have a good idea of how you use your phone, you can then choose the right service provider and package for you with the additional services you require and save yourself time, money and effort


How are calls charged?

It is important to know how your service provider charges you for calls. Calls are usually charged in one of the following ways:-

  1. Unit based – Where the duration is calculated in units. Units may differ from one service provider to another and from one network to another (i.e. fixed or mobile network). For example, if you make a call that lasts for 1.25 minutes, you’ll be charged for a whole unit regardless of the actual duration of the call.
  2. Second based – calls are charged according to the seconds spent on each call.
  3. Minute based – here the call duration is rounded to the next minute. For example, if your call lasted 1 minute and 30 seconds, it will be charged as 2 minutes.


It is also important to note that different times of the day are charged differently. Most Service Providers divide the day into peak and off-peak periods. The peak period will have a higher charge for the call. Sometimes the call rate is different between weekdays and weekends. Make sure you ask your service provider about these periods so you know how much you will pay for the calls.


Quality of Service

You might also like to check whether the mobile phone company has a good reputation for customer service. Ask your friends and family to see which service or company they recommend. Find out how easy it is to get through to a company if you have a customer service query?

What next after choosing the provider and package?

The next step is to look very carefully at the contract between yourself and your service provider. Below is what should be considered before signing, so that you know your rights and obligations.

  1. Make sure you are going to get exactly what you expected.
  2. Check the cost of all the types of calls you are likely to make and the services you want to take.
  3. Find out how long the contract is for?
  4. Find out if you can easily upgrade your package or change the services you take?
  5. Find out how you can contact your service provider?
  6. Make sure you know the complaints procedure?
  7. Find out what the terms and conditions of the service are.

What is a SIM Card?

SIM is Subscriber Identity Module. This is a removable memory card and can be put into any compatible GSM handset, permitting the user to keep same number while changing handsets. A SIM card carries vital details and information of the subscriber, security data, and memory to store personal numbers. The information stored in the SIM card helps the network service provider to recognize the caller.

What are Post-Paid and Pre-Paid Sim Cards.

  1. Post-Paid SIM Card is billed periodically, say, monthly. Full information is availed to the user, and it is the responsibility of the user to keep track of how much you are using on your phone.
  2. Pre-Paid uses a fixed amount which is included in the cost initially. Pre-Paid cards are recharged using recharge airtime cards available in different denominations.

What is a PIN number and what can one do if the SIM card gets blocked?

  1. As soon as you insert a SIM Card in any Handset it asks for PIN (Personal Identification Number) which is a password that is known to the authorised user only. The PIN code can be set to protect your SIM card from unauthorized use.
  2. To prevent continuous attempts to ‘guess’ the PIN number the SIM card automatically gets locked-up after three consecutive wrong entries. If the SIM card is locked, the “Blocked” message will appear and an unlocking code will be needed. Further repeat wrong entries of PIN may lead to damage of card.
  3. The blocked SIM can be then opened through PUK number (PIN Unlocking code) which can be obtained from your service provider after establishing your identity. The PUK is an 8 digit code available with your cellular service provider. Also one should remember that 10 successive wrong entries of PUK number may damage the SIM card forever.

What is an IMEI number of the mobile handset and how can we get it?

The IMEI number (serial number) is a 15 digit number unique to a mobile handset which can help in tracking your mobile phone if it is lost. Just key in *#06# on your cellular phone and it will display its IMEI number. Note it down safely

What about changing your service provider?

If you are not satisfied with your service provider or want to choose a provider that offers more suitable services, you may well be able to choose another one. Or move to a package that suits you better. Below are questions to think about before you change your service provider:

  1. How much notice do you have to give to end the contract with your current service provider?
  2. Given the whole picture of how you use your phone, is the new Operator offering you a better deal? You are the customer – it’s your choice!

What is the difference between pre-paid and post-paid contract?

Pre-paid contract

Pre-paid mobile services are also known as “Pay as You Go”. With pre-paid, calls are usually more expensive as there’s no monthly rental, and you’ll not get an itemised bill showing the calls you have made. You do not risk running up a large bill that you might find difficult to pay. A pre-paid user can add more credit to the pre-paid account anytime. The following are some of the advantages of using a pre-paid contract:

  1. No binding contract
  2. No monthly bill
  3. No credit checks
  4. No deposits needed
  5. No activation fees

Post-paid contract

With post-paid, a user enters into a long term billing arrangement with a service provider.  The user in this situation is billed according to the use of mobile services at the end of each month. The calls are usually less expensive but you pay monthly rental.  You get full information about your calls. When entering into this contract, make sure you ask your service provider about the Call Limit Facility. This is a facility whereby the service provider set a limit for monthly usage. This facility is offered upon request.