[An error on MTN's unreliable billing system led to the suspension of services of 20 000 customers yesterday.]

An error on MTN's unreliable billing system led to the suspension of services of 20 000 customers yesterday.
Mobile operator MTN has once again been a victim of its own erratic billing system, which cut off about 20 000 contract customer subscribers yesterday.

Early yesterday morning, the company encountered a problem that resulted in some of its contract customers reaching a credit limit imposed by the billing system, explains Louis Nel, CIO of MTN SA.

This resulted in 20 000 customers being cut off from making calls, despite having paid up. However, these customers were still able to receive calls. MTN reported having 3.1 million contract subscribers in its latest available figures at the end of March.

However, complaints by disgruntled customers on HelloPeter.com claim it is impossible that their accounts could be in arrears, explaining they had proof of payment of electronic debit orders going off for their monthly bills.

The mobile operator failed to indicate whether the incident was related to a recent upgrade to its billing system, which has been plagued with similar incidents recently.

In May, a local small business owner reported that MTN had overcharged his company's two data accounts, leaving it with a bill of R22 141.26.

A similar situation was reported earlier this year by another MTN customer, who indicated to ITWeb at the time that he had somehow managed to run up R60 000 in charges, while an ITWeb reader said he had received a R91 000 bill.

One customer, Benzi Kornizer, rallied others into a class action lawsuit against the mobile giant, until his query was resolved by the operator.

At the time, MTN's executive for customer relations, Eddie Moyce, explained that customers were likely to be affected by one of three issues: double billing, under-billing or incorrect rate charges.

While Nel has confirmed the latest incident has been resolved and the affected clients have been reinstated, the mobile operator has not commented on what it is doing to prevent similar incidents in the future.