Altech Autopage’s largest client, Saicom, has told the Competition Tribunal that the “cost of some of MTN and Vodacom’s cellphone packages has increased by between 400% and 500%”.
According to a report by Moneyweb, the increases were implemented on “special offers” that Altech Autopage used to make to its Vodacom and MTN clients.
“For example, offering R100’s worth of airtime for R25,” Saicom director Howard Sackstein told Moneyweb.
The increases were the “first indication of the detrimental effects of the proposed mergers between Altech Autopage and Vodacom and Altech Autopage and MTN”, stated Saicom.
In September, Altron announced that the Altech Autopage subscriber base was to be sold to MTN, Cell C, and Vodacom for R1.46bn.
Autopage is a phone service provider that sells MTN, Cell C, and Vodacom contracts.
The sale of Autopage’s subscribers was referred back to the Competition Commission in December, following its initial approval.
Saicom said the viability of its business was dependent on the outcome of the current investigation by the Competition Tribunal.
Saicom made the statement during an application to the Competition Tribunal to intervene in the merger proceedings.
“Saicom’s application to intervene was denied. The merger hearing was concluded. The tribunal will rule on the merger in due course,” stated the report.
Update: Autopage responds
Altech Autopage made the following statement in response to the report by Moneyweb.
Altech Autopage would like to set the record straight with regard to media reports that MTN and Vodacom will raise the price of Altech Autopage contracts by between 400% and 500%.
These reports are factually incorrect. There will be no price change to any customer that transfers from Altech Autopage to any of the network operators – namely Vodacom, MTN and Cell C.
The comments by Saicom regarding price increases refers to the contractual obligations between Saicom and Altech Autopage only.
What Saicom referred to as price increases has nothing to do with Altech Autopage customers. Altech Autopage does not charge above the tariff rates as regulated by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).
With respect to the transfer of Altech Autopage’s customers, if approved by the Competition Tribunal, to Vodacom, MTN and Cell C respectively. The current Terms and Conditions for those customers for the duration of their contracts does not change.