Services that pay for your calls
Pay4Me from MTN and Call Sponsor from Vodacom enable customers who have insufficient airtime to still be able to make calls, by using someone else’s airtime. With MTN the call is reversed, with the person who has airtime, paying for the other persons call. With Vodacom, the one person sponsors another person with airtime to then call whomever they like.
However, each of these services have their limitations, and might not always be as helpful as they suggest.
With both MTN and Vodacom, only certain customers can sign up for the service, and be sponsored for calls. MTN allows only MTN customers to participate in the reverse calling service, limiting who customers can get hold of if they have no airtime.
Vodacoms service offering is more flexible in that as it allows you to list six Vodacom callers to sponsor. They in turn can call or SMS anyone of their choice. However, you as the customer must be on a contract plan with Vodacom, and potentially will have a large bill at the end of the month as there is no way to set a limit on the how many calls or SMSs the sponsored callers can make.
MTN brought out the Pay4Me reverse call service last week Friday, which is exclusively available to MTN customers. The calls cost 99 cents per minute on per second billing. Therefore, you pay for the seconds you have used. However, should the receiver not have sufficient airtime to sponsor the call, they will receive an SMS notification about the missed Pay4Me call.
“MTN is aware of how hard-pressed consumers are and this proposition seeks to ensure that its subscribers stay connected despite their financial situation,” said Larry Annetts, chief marketing officer for MTN South Africa.
When a reverse call comes through, the receiver will have the option to accept, by pressing one, or decline the call by pressing zero on the pop up screen.
Annetts highlighted that this service allows customers to stay connected despite their personal circumstances. “Through Pay4Me, MTN shows that it cares for the welfare of its customers and ensures that customers can fulfil their innate of human instincts – the need to communicate – regardless of their personal circumstances,” he said.
Customers who want to initiate this service need to dial 127 from their MTN cellphone number, followed by the number they wish to call and activate the call button. Alternatively, they can dial *127* followed by the cellphone number they wish to call, followed by the # button.
However, sponsor customers can manage the number of people calling them, so that they do not have to accept the reverse call request every time. If they dial *127# the menu allows the customer to add the cellphone numbers of accepted people calling them using this service including children and the household staff.
“This functionality saves time for the customer as the sponsor does not have to approve a Pay4Me request every time the frequent users of the service calls them,” said Annetts.
The Vodacom initiative Call Sponsor, is only available for Vodacom contract customers. The service allows the contract customer to add six numbers to the sponsor list of either contract TopUp customers or prepaid customers on Vodacom. This service also allows Vodacom customers to send SMSs.
The sponsored clients can then call or send SMSs to any other number, on any network. The calls and SMSs are then debited to the contract customer’s account. The contract customer will pay the rate depending on what price plan the sponsored customer is using. For example, if the sponsored caller was on the Anytime Per Second billing option, then the contract caller would pay R1.20 per minute for the call and 50 cents for a SMS.
In order to activate the Call Sponsor option, contract clients have to call the Vodacom service provider on 082 1200. Once the Call Sponsor option has been activated, customers must sign into their MyVodacom service and add up to six sponsored numbers.
Despite the limitations, the services do offer customers the ability to call when they have no airtime, and perhaps this is a good option to have if they find themselves in emergency situations. If you are a Vodacom customer be sure to advise your sponsors about how the service works so that they don’t take advantage of the fact that you are paying for their calls.
If, for example, you are sponsoring your child make sure you tell them that the service is expensive and that they should only use it in emergency situations to call you or a family member and not to call someone living in Japan.
If you are going to use the MTN service make sure you keep the call short because at 99 cents per minute, per second your bill could escalate dramatically.