Vodacom’s new contract cancellation policy

Vodacom says it changed its contract cancellation policy on 1 October 2022 — shortly after the National Consumer Commission started investigating complaints about its penalty fees.

MyBroadband asked the mobile network operator about its new contract cancellation policy after it received a R1-million administrative fine over its penalties from the National Consumer Tribunal in October 2023.

It should be noted that while Vodacom only received its fine last year, the National Consumer Commission said it had received and investigated numerous complaints on the issue between the 2020/21 and 2021/22 financial years.

“Our contract cancellation policy, which came into effect on 1 October 2022, allows customers to cancel a SIM-only contract,” a Vodacom spokesperson told MyBroadband.

“Customers are required to give one calendar month’s notice of their intention to cancel. We require such notice to be given at the end of the calendar month in question.”

The change included amending its terms and conditions. The changes are quoted below.

…in respect of the cancellation charges which Vodacom will charge where there is no Apparatus linked to the contract and the contract relates to a SIM card only package, then Vodacom will charge a cancellation charge equivalent to one month of the monthly subscription fee.

Notice under these circumstances can be given at any month during the contract period but the one-month notice period will be calculated from the last day of the month that notice was given in…

They added that the changes required Vodacom to update its systems and processes, which took some time to implement.

Previously Vodacom would charge customers 75% of their remaining contract period to cancel.

“Effective 1 October 2022, if any customer notified us of their intention to cancel their SIM-only contract by providing one calendar month’s notice, and was charged more than one month of the monthly subscription fee, we request they raise their query directly with us to investigate and resolve,” they said.

Between the 2020/21 and 2021/22 financial years, several consumers complained to the National Consumer Commission (NCC) regarding Vodacom’s contract cancellation policy.

They said Vodacom denied them the right to cancel their fixed-term contracts by charging a 75% cancellation penalty.

Thezi Mabuza, acting commissioner at the National Consumer Commission.

After investigating, the NCC deemed Vodacom’s conduct “unethical” as it “imposed terms and conditions that negated the consumers’ right to cancel their fixed-term contracts”.

While Vodacom had agreed to pay back customers impacted by its contract cancellation policy, NCC acting commissioner Thezi Mabuza said its contravention of the Consumer Protection Act can’t be negated.

“During our engagement with them [Vodacom], they had agreed to repay some of the consumers that cancelled their contracts,” said Mabuza.

“For now, the only bunch that we know are those consumers that filed complaints, but we don’t know how much that provision benefitted them [Vodacom].”

“We hope that with this interaction with Vodacom, other suppliers look at their contracts and their conduct, and respect consumers and the consumer law as well,” she added.

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Vodacom’s new contract cancellation policy