|Vodacom 'takes back' 99c deal|
Monday, 21 May 2012 11:30
Vodacom's new 99c per minute prepaid product was not launched yesterday, as the operator announced it would last week.
This follows a discrepancy relating to the Independent Communications Authority of SA's (ICASA's) regulations regarding tariff changes, which compel operators to lodge new tariff plans with the authority at least seven days prior to them being launched.
While Vodacom has apologised, saying the discrepancy is due to an error in the press release announcing its 99c per-minute Freedom 99 deal, ICASA has stonewalled the deal – set for launch yesterday.
“[ICASA] has a regulatory mandate to ensure compliance with all regulations and the Electronic Communications Act. The authority informed Vodacom that, based on the wording of the press release issued on 16 May 2012, Vodacom was deemed non-compliant. Through the authority's proactive intervention on this matter, Vodacom did not launch the advertised Freedom 99 product on Sunday, 20 May 2012, and a proper process needs to be followed in terms of the regulations.”
Vodacom's prepaid offering “Freedom 99” would have allowed customers to make off-net, anytime calls for 99c per minute, as of yesterday.
The announcement of the new prepaid package – via a press release issued on Wednesday – came just minutes after Cell C announced its “99 Cents For Real” prepaid product.
Vodacom's release reads: “Seriously – how's that for freedom? With Vodacom's new Freedom 99 prepaid tariff there's no longer a need to worry about when you're calling or who you're calling, because calls to any network in SA are just 99 cents per minute.”
The release goes on to quote the operator's marketing head Enzo Scarcella, “speaking about the new prepaid tariff”. Finally, in concluding, the release refers to Freedom 99 as an “incredibly low call rate”.
On Friday, two days after the press release that introduced Freedom 99 to the media and in turn the market, Vodacom issued a statement saying it had “mistakenly referred to the Freedom 99 promotion as a new tariff”.
Head of corporate affairs, Richard Boorman, says the correct wording should have referred to Freedom 99 as a promotion, based on the All Day Per Minute price plan. “We apologise for this mistake.”
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