South Africa: How they steal your airtime on Prepaid mobile phones

I thought I would publish this because it might help someone.

I have a prepaid phone. I buy some air time each month. For a long time, the airtime that I bought would remain there – because I don’t make many phone calls. Then I began noticing my air time slowly disappearing. I would buy more airtime and it would disappear after a while. The rate at which it was disappearing was increasing.

Eventually I got fed up and I phoned the cell phone company to find out what was going on.

It turned out I was subscribed to various services which were deducting a certain amount of money per day. They removed me from the services and also gave me a USSD code (those # type codes), so that I could check for subscription services. A few weeks later I checked and saw that indeed, I’d been added to one called "gift" and it was stealing 50c or something per day from me so I unsubscribed.

When I phoned them to complain the first time, I was subscribed to at least 3 subscription services without knowing about it.

Now how did I get subscribed? Well, that’s interesting. I’m fully aware that if you get things and you click on them and they give you options and you choose yes, that you might be joining something. So I NEVER do that. But, I will admit that in the past I might have subscribed to 1 or 2 by accident through fumbling. I think 1 or 2 that I was on also was not quite through my own actions.

The latest one I unsubscribed from, called "Gift" is something I definitely did NOT JOIN.

I know that mobile companies have many ways of making money, but I find their method of operation rather disingenuous. If the amounts were enough I would have loved to sue them, but the amounts are small. Even so, it is very irritating, having your money disappear on something that you are not even using. I was most annoyed.

What I do wonder also, is whether Blacks who have some technical knowledge, also create scams like this "Gift" subscription service, and I wonder how many people (perhaps of all races), they steal from? I wonder how much money they can steal, month by month without anyone knowing about it or noticing it?

Personally, I think there is some dodgy stuff going on there.

But if you find you are losing airtime especially, maybe go looking for subscription services that are stealing from you, that the mobile company does not care about.

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