Vodacom, Cell C probed over price hikes

Vodacom and Cell C are being probed by the National Consumer Commission over recent cellphone contract price hikes, the Sunday Times reported.

The NCC told the paper that it may extend the probe to other mobile and fixed-line operators, depending on the what the current probe finds.

The probe was initiated following complaints about Vodacom’s recent price hikes, which would see the company’s contract prices increasing from 1 May 2015.

Cell C announced similar price hikes in December 2014, which came into effect from February 2015.

Vodacom explained that one of the reasons for the price increases is external inflationary pressures – an increase in the price it pays to run the company and build its network.

The weak rand has also been particularly brutal on telecommunications operators, which pay in US dollars for equipment and services.

The other reason, Vodacom said, is a lack of spectrum to provide services to a growing subscriber base.

It was reported last week that Icasa and the NCC had met to discuss the price hikes.

National Consumer Commission spokesperson Trevor Hattingh said that, although the changes seem unfair, Icasa may have approved these conditions.

According to the Sunday Times, Icasa says the operators had done nothing wrong “at this stage”.

The paper reported that section 48 of the Consumer Protection Act may have been breached.

Section 48 prohibits a supplier from entering into an agreement with a consumer on terms that are unfair, unjust or unreasonable.

You can read the full story in the Sunday Times for 5 April 2015.

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Vodacom, Cell C probed over price hikes