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NCC to probe Vodacom price hikes

By Staff Writer
Despite the National Consumer Commission’s (NCC) intention to investigate Vodacom’s tariff hikes, the mobile provider said that the increase is set to go ahead as planned.

It has not yet been confirmed when the NCC will probe the cellular network provider’s increase in tariffs and at the time of writing the NCC had not yet responded to Justmoney’s questions on timeframes.

South Africans might be used to price increases – with Eskom as case in point – but the latest announcements from Vodacom and Cell C came as a shock as mobile operator’s prices, prices of cell phones, and mobile technology have been dropping in recent years.

Vodacom will beincreasing itsmobile tariffs from the 1 May, 2015.

Vodacom is not the only one to hike tariffs. Cell C also increased its tariff prices since February and will also be investigated by the NCC.

Legal standings

"We are aware that many other consumers are affected by the actions of the mobile network service providers concerned," said Trevor Hattingh, the commission spokesperson, to TimesLive.

Richard Boorman, spokesperson for Vodacom said that, “Clause 5.8 is the relevant part [in their terms and conditions]. It reserves the right to vary our charges from time to time.”

Clause 5.8 states that: “The charges levied by Vodacom may vary from time to time and Vodacom shall provide you with at least 20 (twenty) business days’ notice of such variations before they take effect.

“You shall be bound to pay such varied charges with effect from the date of publication thereof by either Vodacom and/or Vodacom unless you exercise your right of termination as provided for in this Agreement.”

Social media

Many customers have taken to Twitter to show their frustration with the mobile price hike.

One customer was angry that Vodacom had decided to increase the price of his wife’s contract, in the middle of the contract term. The tweet can be seen here.

Another customer took to Twitter to say that “legal is not always moral. Show us a corporate that cares (not just about the bottom line).”
However, Vodacom spokesperson, Richard Boorman, said that the decision to increase the contract prices was not a light one. 
“We didn’t take the decision to increase lightly and did seek both internal and external legal advice ahead of time to make sure that we were staying on the right side of the Consumer Protection Act,” said Boorman.

Telkom Mobile and MTN have not indicated any tariff increases yet. Last month a spokesperson for Telkom Mobile told Justmoney that the company is not aware of any price increases at the moment. However, “as soon as there are changes it will be announced.”
 
Meanwhile Larry Annetts, chief marketing officer at MTN South Africa told Justmoney: “MTN does not comment on competitor activity.  MTN shall continue to remain competitive and committed to its strategy of developing attractive and tailored products and solutions that will enhance customer experience and lead to the delivery of a bold, new digital world.”

How to end a contract

Vodacom said that if a customer wants to cancel their contract the first thing they need to do is get in touch with them.
This can be done by calling 082 1958 or alternatively calling customer care on 082 111.

Vodacom require 30 days’ written notice, before you can cancel. Customer services will let you know what paper work you will need, depending on your contract.

 “There are two portions to the cancellation fee. First, the outstanding handset finance fees (not all customers have this) are calculated.

"As you get towards the end of the contract, this would end up as a smaller and smaller portion of the overall cost of the handset. Added to this is a fee based on the monthly subscription cost multiplied by the number of months left to run on the contract, and this amount is then discounted by 25%,” said Vodacom. 

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