Kathmandu, October 23:

Sales agents of the Nepal Telcom (NT) are making fast buck by cashing in on the shortage of recharge cards worth Rs 200 in the capital.

They transfer money from their accounts to that of customers at certain costs.

The company price of a recharge card worth Rs 200 is Rs 205, but the retailer, while recharging a mobile phone account, charges Rs 210.

“If customers want to recharge their accounts, we transfer money from our mobile phone sets,” said Ramesh Gautam of a cyber cafe at the Koteshwor Chowk.

The wall of his shop displays a new tariff structure — Rs 100, Rs 200, Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 — though the NT has not issued a hundred-rupee card. He says he charges five rupees for recharge worth Rs 100 while airtime worth Rs 200 comes at a price of Rs 210. However, recharge cards worth Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 recharge cards are available in the market. “The rate for airtime worth Rs 200 is fixed at Rs 210 in all places in the capital,” he said.

“We don’t have to convince customers. They happily take the offer,” he said.

Soon after launch, cards worth Rs 200 sold like hot cakes. “The card became popular because it was available at an affordable price,” said Lok Raj Sharma, director at the Mobile Service Directorate of the NT.

Expressing ignorance about the unscrupulous practice in the market, Sharma warned:

“Retailers levying extra charges against the company’s official rate will not be given cards in the future.”

According to him, the retailers are given two per cent commission for the sale of each card. He said the Rs 200 recharge cards will be available in the market by the end of the month. “We have just opened an LC in the bank for 60 lakh pieces of cards,” he said, adding: “Instead of paying extra bucks, it would be wise to buy recharge cards worth Rs 500 each.” The company is thinking of bringing out low-priced cards in the future, he said.

While transferring money from an account, the user gets airtime worth the money transferred, but the validation of SIM does not add up. While each recharge

card worth Rs 200 is valid for two months, cards worth Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 are valid for six months and a year.

The expiry date of SIM does not seem to bother customers. “When I have just two hundred with me, how can I ask for the validation of SIM? I have to have my mobile recharged anyway,” said Deb Raj Rai, who got his card recharged in Gautam’s shop.