Open Letter: Dear GLO, It Doesn’t Pay To Wait! – By Kwesi Sakyi-Gyinae

Dear Glo,

Let me first of all render my sincere sympathy to you upon being charged US$200,000 by the NCA for failing to meet the April 20 deadline. I’m quite sure your protracted launch has become an uninteresting case study for NCA. But really who would think twice, if he or she was in charge of NCA? You guys have only fondled with the hopes of Ghanaian consumers, revving up our heart palpitations, only to drop us dead with no climax. You have been lucky to escape with such a diminutive penalty- after all it shouldn’t be a big deal for you Nigerians knowing very well your extreme spending intrepidity.

I do not intend to query you on the nitty-gritty of the progress you have made with your exaggerated preparations. Now, most of us don’t care anyway! You only remind me of some years back when society carved the slogan “It pays to wait” to rally the message of sexual abstinence. At any chance and in any context, parents would hammer it, and teenagers were loath to it- not necessarily because of the message’s substance, but because of how ad nauseam it became.

Those times, you wouldn’t really wish to watch a TV show with your parents, because sooner than expected, during a commercial break, Zingaro’s creepy cartoon production would drop the “It pays to wait” mantra, giving you away so easily to a teen pep talk with the oldies. Granted that your company is a fully home-grown African organization, I am tempted to think you have had overdose of that message.

We have lost count of the years since your gargantuan promise of touching down in Ghana- maybe four or five years ago. Then, we most probably needed you, and the fear and panic you caused among your industry’s competitors was enough to assure us that you were a good chap (by the way you were lucky by then the interpreters of our law were quite lenient; your management could have in police custody for high treason).

That was when our fledgling telecom sector was stale; and needless to say, the quality of the service being offered was nowhere near satisfactory. Initially, the wait for your firm was pleasant- it was like waiting for the birth of the telecom ‘messiah’. Grapevine and rumours stoked interests, and it had even been spewed that your company had scuppered competition in Nigeria to become the industry leader. We didn’t care about the authenticity of these information, our fantasies had consumed us.

But we waited, and waited, and waited. It had all stalled. Soon we overheard you blaming government for allegedly sabotaging your cross-country engineering efforts. All this while, you kept postponing and poking our minds with the jibe that you were nearer to launch than we thought. Even the famous marketing AIDA model tells us how interests could wane if awareness is truncated. Yet you were really smart.

You picked up our local football league and music stars, paid them huge sums of money, and named them after yourself. You wanted to win back our hearts because football and music is our heartbeat. All this while, the existing service providers we previously didn’t like were working even harder. Some gave us free talk, some wider coverage, cheaper call internet data rates and others improved on their network quality, and even more, some pumped money into entertainment shows that we loved.

We began to think that we had made a mistake giving up on existing providers in the first place. No relationship can be perfect, and so why did we expect our business relationship with them to be any better? Perhaps, they were right when they said, the devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know.

GLO, I think you made your own plight worse recently. You’d promise a launch date, and come back to extend it. Please don’t be fooled by the amount of number reservations you had; we did the same with one competitor and yet failed to move. See the hype we gave to Mobile Number Portability? But we still wouldn’t port. Well, Ghanaian’s aren’t stupid, and consumers don’t play prank.

We have found ways to squeeze for improved services from the service providers we have now. Don’t let me tell you about how we formed social media groups and had activists to campaign for better services. You can ask our no-nonsense NCA boss, why he’d impose millions of dollars as sanctions for service providers doing a terrible job.

I know you can write a thousand pages lamenting my indifference to your marketing actions now; and don’t make the mistake of thinking that I am alone. I know Andah et al are gurus in what they do, but I can’t stop to think that you could underwhelm when you finally launch commercially. You’ve spent millions of dollars already, still fixing your ‘big bang theory’. The last time I heard, you were in some rural locality exchanging diplomatic pleasantries with our revered chiefs. It appears you are doing a lot of background work, 4 years and still counting, for a market prospect (perhaps leftover) of just about ten million.

Whichever way, we don’t know how to feel about you. We wished you had started something earlier. That would have been ‘interventional’. Now maybe you’d just be complementary- I don’t know, it’s your call. But at least by now you should have unlearned what we have been taught earlier: it doesn’t pay to wait!

Yours indifferent,
Ghanaian consumer.

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