MultiChoice’s DSTV – A Review

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Those of you who’ve ventured beyond Botswana will know that you can often access the landline, internet access and cable TV as a package, therefore bringing prices considerably down. By the same token, those who haven’t been to Botswana or about to start a new life here will be shocked to know that there’s no such option here. Instead, each of those services comes individually at eye-popping prices most people will struggle to ever afford.

With very few entertainment options, people often sign onto DSTV even as they grumble over the hideous fees. What’s worse, since the beginning of time to the present, MultiChoice has always been the only available option for cable TV, which means they don’t have to change to beat the competition. So in essence, being the sole provider has given the company complete control of the market, as they have no competitors in the market.

Here’s what you’ll need to know before you sign up with DSTV


The Pros…

Very easy to sign on. It’s commendable that MultiChoice makes signing up very easy, unlike most other local service providers, which want you to submit all manner of documents including copies of proof of residence, bank statements and your ID. At MultiChoice, all they ask of you is the money required and purchase of your PVR/Explorer box. The process is relatively painless and quick. All they want to know is that you’re able to pay for the service. I don’t even remember being asked to provide my ID. This for me is something MultiChoice ought to be commended on and something other local service providers could learn from.

The queuing system is not bad, as MultiChoice has a ticketed queuing system, meaning you won’t have people jumping the queue as is the norm here. What’s more, even when the queues are long, the line moves pretty fast. Many other local service providers could do with borrowing a leaf out of MultiChoice’s book for this.

No need to queue up. MultiChoice makes it very easy to pay online or via your phone if you’d rather not go in.

You’re not tied into a contract through which MultiChoice holds you to ransom if you can’t afford it anymore or decide it’s just not for you. You are able to dip in and out of it at will without the fear of reconnection fees. Roll-on-roll-off contracts are not a thing in Botswana, but I feel they should be more widely available.


The Cons…

Extortionate fees that skyrocket without fail every year. For as long as I’ve known of this service, the price has gone up annually almost without fail. As far as I can tell, nothing really changes for the better.

The most favourable benefits are reserved for South Africa. If you happen to see a juicy promotion on DSTV, it’ll almost certainly be available only in South Africa. Watch the end of the commercial for the disclaimer. I’ve even heard South Africans pay much more affordable fees, but just how accurate those claims are I don’t know because I’ve put this to the Gaborone staff, who’ve vehemently dismissed the claims as inaccurate.

I’m more inclined to believe the claims because Batswana have been known to register DSTV accounts in South Africa in order to enjoy more affordable fees. In fact, some enterprising South Africans just across the border have apparently found ways of milking the situation and will let Batswana use their addresses for a fee!

Repeats that go back years are commonplace. I have yet to see DSTV run UK shows real time. Each time I’ve stumbled across some of my favourite shows on DSTV, they are usually lagging way behind, by about a year or two. They just keep repeating them over and over again. Top Gear is a classic example.

Separate fee for the ability to record, pause, rewind, stop, fast forward. The first time I encountered this I thought someone was winding me up, but yes DSTV charges you for the box, the privilege of watching cable TV and then slaps on another fee, called the access fee to enable you to enjoy what the box should already do anyway. I will never forget the first time my husband and I raised our displeasure over the charge, only for the customer service agent to take offence and rudely tell my husband that we ought to be grateful for the privilege, as all other customers were. Worse still, when my husband tried to explain why he felt it was weird to charge for what should be part of the service, she threw in a thinly veiled racial attack in his face. To this day, said agent and some of her colleagues shoot us daggers whenever we step into the building to pay our bill!

If you’re new to MultiChoice, be sure to enquire about the access fee because in our case it was not mentioned at all. That way you can decide whether to opt in or out. Following our discussion with the MultiChoice agent, my husband started a Facebook discussion thread about the issue and most people who joined it were very shocked because they’d unknowingly been paying it for years!

HD channels cost more. This is something else that I just can’t get my head around! The same premium package costs more if you want HD channels, something I strongly believe you should already get as part of the service.

Not much to see. I hate to say this, but there really isn’t much on offer. For the price you have to shell out, there are way too many repeats, and the movies tend to be stale and old.


Conclusion

While DSTV is offers a far better viewing experience than plain old BTV, it really isn’t fantastic. I believe because the company has monopolised the market since the beginning of time, it’s become just a tad too complacent. Because there’s no other company to challenge it for the market, in my opinion, MultiChoice has taken its eye off the ball because it knows there are simply no other options.

However, I feel that the time may have come for them to change; diversify their offer, appreciate their customers more and re-think their pricing. I say this because in all the years I’ve known DSTV, it has not changed much and yet the winds of change are blowing. With the advancement of technology, there’s every possibility that MultiChoice may well be toppled from the comfortable position it’s perched on for perhaps too long as technologies emerge to offer people various options.

I strongly believe that the time is now.


What are your views on MultiChoice and/or DStv? Do you like or dislike it? Comment below with your views.

4 months ago