Today I’d like to discuss one of Cell C’s contract options; the Epic range.
This is only because of a friend of mine who kinda got caught out by the offer.
For those of you who are international readers, Cell C is a mobile service provider in South Africa. We currently have 4 primary mobile providers. They are, Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom Mobile.
Cell C joined this space in the early 2000s as the third major player and really shook up the South African cellular landscape with per second billing and many other innovative offerings.
However, the Epic contract offering, is not one of my favourite offerings.
You may recall that Cell C launched a promotion – aimed at luring contract customers from competitors in May 2015.
Getting new customers is not a bad thing but, what was offered to these customers, in my opinion, was not a good thing.
There is some financial reward, (in the form of a rewards card) but, you have to spend a lot of money per month to qualify for this kick-back.
To convince a customer to leave his or her current mobile network in order to join, Cell C, you really have to offer something unique and different to the client.
Cell C said that they’d “Buy you out” and offered the Epic deals as an insentive plus the reward card; no cash.
My issue is not necessarily with the buyout offer itself but, rather with the value that one gets for this package and the somewhat intentional deceit that takes place when one is offered any of these Epic contract options.
On the surface, it looks very promising and rather tempting but, if one looks at the actual value that you get from one of these contract options, one might be better off choosing something else instead.
I’d even go as far as saying that it’s misleading to some extent.
So, here’s how it works.
You have 7 Epic options. Epic 100, 150, 200, 350, 500, 650 and finally Epic 1000.
All of these options are charged at a somewhat lower price than the actual number might indicate, creating the impression that you are scoring a good deal.
Cell C’s Epic contracts give more inclusive airtime value than you pay in Rand value every month however, if your airtime runs out you’ll be paying R1.89 per minute on per second billing for calls and r0.99 per MB for data..
I’m just this guy, you know, the average kind but, I’d think that I’d be allocated the value of airtime that’s represented in the numbering scheme, for example, the Epic 200 contract option, should give me R200.00 of Cell C airtime to really use as I please.
On Cell C’s prepaid offerings, what can you do with R200.00 of airtime?
You can get 1 GB of data, 100 minutes of talk time and have some change left. i.e. you can make calls at reasonably low rates (R0.66 per minute), you can purchase data and sms bundles so, you can use your airtime for anything on offer when dialing *147#.
Things look somewhat different when you are on an Epic contract though.
You will not get much in the way of voice minutes when on an Epic contract.
On an Epic 200 contract option, for example, if I were to use the allocated value for voice calls only to phone mobile and fixed line numbers, (excluding tollfree and share call numbers), I’d only get about 105 minutes.
Get this, your allocated value will be gone.
You cannot purchase a data bundle.
Yes, this is correct. You cannot decide that you’d like to allocate a portion of the airtime to purchase a data bundle. Why? Well, because you are forced to use the airtime that Cell C gave you in the manner prescribed.
You are expected to pay R0.99 per MB. Do you know how quickly a smartphone eats through 1 MB of data?
The example package of the Epic 200, will give you only 201 MB of data. A 300 MB data bundle normally costs R55 but, in this case, it will cost you R200 of airtime value as you cannot allocate your airtime value to a data bundle.
Oh, and do not forget that if you have used this 201 MB of data you’d have nothing left for voice calls.
If you are big on sms messages, you’d be able to send 403 sms messages. Perfect for 2016, right?
So, let’s take a more balanced view.
Let’s base the example of the Epic 200 on my usage pattern. I’m going to allocate 15% to voice, 84% to data and 1% to sms messages. We’re still using the Epic 200 as an example.
- I’d get a huge amount of minutes. A total of 15 minutes that I’d be able to spend on phoning all my friends and family.
- 169 MB should be enough for the month, I think, right?
- I’d stick to sms message rather as I’d get 40 of those for the month.
Let me get this straight. For R129.00 a month, Cell C is offering me 15 minutes, 169 MB and 40 SMSs. Furthermore, they say that this is valued at R200 so, technically it’s the price that should be associated with the offer.
I’m sorry but, that is not going down very well.
Now, you might think that this is perhaps not a good example but, allow me to show you how little value the Epic 1000 contract option offers.
Keep in mind that the Epic 1000 contract option goes for only R699.00 per month. Based on my previous usage pattern of 15% to voice, 84% to data and 1% to sms messages, this is what you’ll get.
79 minutes, 850 MB and 199 SMSs; for R699.00!
I really don’t care about the sms messages but, this is a rip off.
If I wanted 3 GB of data with 75 minutes and no sms messages, I’d be able to get it for R249 per month, also from Cell C on the SMARTCHAT 3GB contract for R450 less.
What happens if you have used up all your allocated airtime?
If you have an open line, you will pay out of bundle rates (OOB) to the maximum of your credit on Cell C’s systems.
Thus, if you, for example, have a credit limit of R800 and you are on the Epic 1000 contract, you’d just need to download 792 MB of data and you’d have a bill of r1,499.
You could obviously add data and sms bundles outside of your contract value to your bill but, then you could also just choose a more suitable contract as this might end up being rather costly.
I’ve really tried to find value in the Epic range of offerings from Cell C but, I’m finding it very difficult. Even if one were to say that you are getting round about a 30% discount, it still is very misleading and unethical.
Instead of providing a value proposition, they’ve decided to take advantage of the ignorance of already frustrated customers by creating a really confusing and unnecessarily complicated product offering.
On top of that, Cell C also offered to (pay) to (buyout) these clients from their current mobile service providers.
It’s sad but, it is quite obvious that those people who took up this offer of being bought out by Cell C, might have been made to pay for this themselves, without realising this.
This article aims to illustrate that we as customers should always be aware of what options are out there and what exactly it is that we are signing up for. Being taken for a ride is not a one-way thing; you need some participants to make it happen.
Cell C is certainly not innocent in this case and I’m quite sure that they’ve lost many of the clients that they initially gained due to this contract having been offered to clients who were not aware of how it exactly worked.
In short; there is really no value in these contract options, unless you just want the device and have your own internet at home or an additional contract or prepaid sim.
Also, shop around. See what it really is that you need and don’t just take the first thing that comes along.
I’m a very happy Cell C customer but, I’m not on the same page with them when it comes to the Epic mess.
Important Terms and Conditions’s listed for Cell C’s new Epic contract packages are:
- The Epic packages are available on both Postpaid and Top Up for new and existing customers.
- SIM-only Epic packages are available on 12, 18 and 24 month contracts.
- Epic packages that include a handset are only available on a 24 month basis.
- Inclusive airtime cannot be used for international calling, SMS/MMS, or roaming.
- Inclusive airtime cannot be used to purchase data bundles.
- Calls to Cell C, MTN, Neotel, Telkom, and Vodacom will be deducted from inclusive airtime, but all “special numbers” are excluded.
- Cell C will not be liable for charges incurred where the subscriber dials non-qualifying numbers.
- When inclusive airtime can’t be used, postpaid customers will be billed out-of-bundle and charges will be added to their invoice.
- Parallel, upward, and downward migrations to and from the Epic packages is allowed.