FIJI NEWS

Council hits out at phone ads

Written By : SERA JANINE. A consumer watchdog has labelled certain mobile phone companies’ call rates advertisements as misleading. Consumer Council of Fiji chief executive officer Premila Kumar said even
02 Jan 2009 12:00

Written By : SERA JANINE. A consumer watchdog has labelled certain mobile phone companies’ call rates advertisements as misleading.
Consumer Council of Fiji chief executive officer Premila Kumar said even though the entry of new mobile phone companies into the market was welcomed, it was important that advertisements of their call rates did not mislead consumers.
“The Consumer Council of Fiji is pleased for consumers because low and cheap mobile rates have been much awaited and is expected from the deregulated telecommunications market. However, the Council is concerned that in this price war consumers are being misled on the ‘real’ rates charged to them,” she said.
“Consumers should not take the advertised rates as the best offer but make sense of the rates masking the advertised rates – they would be surprised at the hidden cost in the advertisement which is what the mobile phone providers are not mentioning.”
Mobile phone companies Digicel and INKK have been promoting their call rates in the print media, with comparison of call charges for a minute of talk time being made by Digicel.
Mrs Kumar said the council viewed the publicly advertised price comparisons as beneficial to the customers.
However, she said the mobile phone companies seemed to be deliberately keeping other necessary information from their customers.
“Digicel began the price war in the print media by challenging its competitor Vodafone. The irony of the advertisement is that INKK responded in the same manner by challenging Digicel – a response that was certainly expected from Vodafone Company. Nonetheless, INKK is believed to be withholding necessary information in their corresponding advertisement, which the Council is not too pleased about. Further, Digicel consumers would pay 80 cents before qualifying for free talk time while INKK customers would have to pay $1.50 before qualifying for free talk time,” she said.
“Interestingly, INKK mobile company has decided to have a phone price war only with Digicel and not with their network provider Vodafone. This surely raises the question of the existence of true competition between the Vodafone and INKK companies or is there really only two mobile phone companies in Fiji?”
In response to the statement from Mrs Kumar Vodafone executive Aslam Khan said the the council was being unfair on them as it did not seek clarification and comments from them before they issued the press statement.
He said they have the best technology in comparison to the other two mobile companies.
“However, as stated earlier, Vodafone will not go on a public mudslinging on who provides the best value in mobile communication in Fiji. We leave this for the consumer to decide on who offers the best value for money,” said Mr Khan.
“We clearly differentiate ourselves from the pack with better technology (new 3.5G network) and all our call and SMS rates are available publicly.”



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