PORT-AU-PRINCE – Digicel officials said a steep increase in fuel and water costs, along with Haiti’s ongoing insecurity, are responsible for a price hike that has some customers wanting to break the phone company’s SIM cards.
“We have real inflation, all prices have gone up,” Jean Philippe Brun, a Digicel spokesperson said in a June 1 press conference. “There’s also the security aspect, five years ago, a Digicel technician who went on our sites could refuel them. Today, depending on the area we’re heading to, we need to have security escorts, armored cars and a police escort.”
Calls from the main account cost 16.50 gourdes, or USD $.15 cents, company officials said in a May 30 statement. Through its various plans, it said the average cost of a call per minute is 1.3 gourde, or an amount less than a penny.
Dissatisfied, many consumers took to social media to express their irritation with the increase, saying the phone plans are unaffordable.
“It is another form of kidnapping,” Wagner Makele Prince commented on Facebook. “It is imperative to replenish our account every day in order to have a plan, otherwise we spend 16.5 gourdes per minute. Congratulations, soon the sun will rise over Haiti you will leave as a defeated soldier.”
On WhatsApp, an unidentified disgruntled customer called for Operation “Kase Sim Digicel” — break Digicel SIM cards in English – after saying the plans were a scam. The customer had shared on the messaging platform a recording of his conversation with a Digicel operator who told him that he made a 3-minute phone call that cost 54.90 gourdes because he had not chosen a plan.
In response, CONATEL, the government agency overseeing telecommunications industry, said starting June 1, companies must submit phone plan changes for approval at least eight days before implementation. Companies must also submit a list of their current plans at the end of each quarter.