Consumer Council questions Vodafone for abusing their core business!

25/09/2008 10:33

The Consumer Council of Fiji is not surprised that Vodafone is defending its Car-Razy Competition in response to Council’s concern that Vodafone is running a lottery for its pre pay and post pay users.

The Council argues that Vodafone is abusing its core business of providing voice and data solution over the phone including texting. From when did texting to win, a car formed a part of Vodafone’s business particularly when the cost of texting is not 18c but $1.98. The Council argues it is nothing less than running a lottery because the consumers are not using text message for communicating with their family, friends, relatives or for official purposes but texting to Vodafone at a higher rate ($1.98) to win a car! If it is not lottery then what is it! What is Vodafone promoting through this competition? Is it the car or using of SMS at a cost, which is eleven times more than the normal cost of SMS?

How can Vodafone compare competition involving fast moving consumer goods where traders ask for ten labels to enter draw for a prize? At least in these cases consumers do not pay more than the price of the product to enter competition. For example Colgate competition. Traders are not selling colgate at a higher price for people to enter this competition unlike Vodafone charging $1.98 and not the normal 18cents to enter this competition.

The Commerce Commission surely approved the text charges for promotional activities but not to run a lottery guised as promotional activities. The Council urges the Commerce Commission to intervene and put an end to unscrupulous way of generating profits.

The Council received more complaints from employers and consumers for accumulating higher bills since Vodafone did not disclose the cost of SMS on SMS advertisements sent to their mobile phones to entice consumers to participate. Why was this information not disclosed to consumers when each mobile user received SMS advertisement on their personal mobiles.

When Council questioned Vodafone officials for not disclosing this information through SMS message, they argued that there are only so many words that can be used for texting. The Council believes that it was a deliberate move on the part of the Vodafone not to disclose the cost of SMS through mobile phones. If Vodafone can fit a message such as “You could be the one today to drive away in your brand new four wheel drive or car” how come they could not fit four words “SMS will cost $1.98” which is crucial to consumers to make a decision.  

Deceptive marketing to lure Consumers is unethical. Consumers are lured to win the car and not the core service that Vodafone provides.