Mobile companies fight over rate ads

Written By : SANDRA AH SAM. The war of words between the country’s mobile phone providers is now before the Consumer Council of Fiji, Each accuses the other of breaching
01 Jan 2009 12:00

Written By : SANDRA AH SAM. The war of words between the country’s mobile phone providers is now before the Consumer Council of Fiji,
Each accuses the other of breaching the advertising code of ethics in a series of newspaper announcements which began with Digicel naming its competitor Inkk in an advertisement that sought to compare rates.
Inkk responded with its own advertisement.
Digicel Fiji Limited chief executive officer John Delves said in a statement to the Consumer Council of Fiji that Digicel had recently put out an advertisement comparing its mobile call charges with those of Inkk.
Mr Delves said the contents of the advertisement were discussed beforehand with council officials to ensure that it was not misleading and was fair and noted that other requirements were provided for in the Media Council Code of Ethics and Practice for Advertisements.
“Inkk Mobile put out a similar advertisement on December 23; however the advertisement clearly breached the provisions of the code of ethics as we are of the view that it was not fair and was misleading,” Mr Delves wrote.
“The advertisement was not fair as both Inkk and Digicel, during the promotional period; provide free calls for the respective minutes.
“Inkk has advertised that they provide calls “Absolutely free” while “Digicel” simply provides calls for free. This is clearly not a fair advertisement as it compares similar (if not the same) promotional giveaways, however using words, which imply that Inkk has provided a much better offer,” Mr Delves said.
However, in response Inkk business manager Swantha Jayasingha told the council that “Inkk call rates are 30 cents per minute and it applies to all day (peak and off-peak) for Inkk (on-net calls).We charge ½ cents per second to our customers and this is our normal flat rate for now. This is very clearly stated in the advertisement.”
He aid the comparative advertising was started by Digicel, and Inkk was merely responding.
“We have not taken offence to their advertising,” he told the council.
“In fact we did welcome this as per press comments. However, we needed to do this to put things in perspective so that the consumer could make an informed decision. We are still the cheapest on a per minute basis and we stand by that claim unless someone can prove otherwise.
“Digicel call rates are 40 cents per minute for peak hours. We have very clearly stated the above statements in our advertisement so one cannot claim that the advertisement is misleading in any way.
“Secondly, regarding Inkk’s “Crazy Talk” promotion, we have also very clearly stated in our advertisement that Talk for 5 minutes and get the next 50 minutes Absolutely Free (Inkk on-net calls only). Simultaneously, we have very clearly stated Digicel Talk for 2 minutes and get the next 28 minutes free (Digicel on-net calls only).”
Mr Delves said Digicel consumers only needed to talk for two minutes before they qualified for free talk minutes, while with Inkk, consumers were to talk for five minutes before they qualified for free talk time. Mr Delves said this was not made clear in Inkk’s advertisement and was therefore not a fair advertisement and was also misleading.
He said if one had to calculate these figures Digicel customers would only pay 80 cents before qualifying for free talk time while Inkk customers would have to pay $1.50 before qualifying for free talk time.
Mr Jayasingha said Inkk Mobile had always pursued a very fair and just advertising policy and followed the media guidelines before any advertisement was placed.

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