Telkom slammed for misleading customers about international roaming

The Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) has ruled that Telkom misled customers with an advert relating to its international roaming services.

Complainant Paul Retief submitted that the advertisement claims pre-paid, contract and top-up customers can access the roaming services. However, after following the procedure to activate international roaming, he was told it wasn’t available for pre-paid customers.

Instead, the complainant was told, via two different channels, that only SMS roaming could be activated for pre-paid customers.

“If he had known that he could not activate full international roaming, he would have taken other measures before his trip to France,” the complaint reads.

Given the opportunity to respond, Telkom confirmed that full international roaming is available for pre-paid customers. However, they can only activate it in-store.

It apologised for the inconvenience caused and said it had taken internal disciplinary steps to address the misrepresentation of information from the agents that Retief contacted.

“Pre-paid customers can only activate international roaming for a pre-paid number by going to a Telkom store,” it said.

The advertisement in question states:

For both Contract and Prepaid customers NB — Before travelling, fill in the form found at this URL.

You should get confirmation from Telkom either via SMS, call, or email. Alternatively, visit your nearest Telkom Mobile store.

The wording in the advertisement contradicts the information that Telkom gave the ARB in its response.

“This is inconsistent with the clarification provided by the advertiser that pre-paid customers can only activate the service in-store,” it wrote in its ruling.

The ARB weighed the complaint in terms of Clause 4.2.1 of Section II of the Code of Advertising Practice.

Based on the feedback it received from Telkom, the ARB believes it must be made clear to customers that pre-paid customers can only activate full international roaming in-store.

“The advertisement does not state this at all, and therefore is misleading,” it stated.

The ARB instructed Telkom to amend the advertisement to address the ruling and withdraw all ads that don’t explain the process pre-paid customers need to follow to activate international roaming.

“The process of withdrawing or amending the claim must be completed within the deadlines stipulated in Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide,” it added.

For reference, the Procedural Guide states that newspaper, radio, television, magazine, and Internet advertisements must be withdrawn “immediately as deadlines permit”.

MyBroadband asked Telkom for comment, but it had not responded by publication.

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Telkom slammed for misleading customers about international roaming