Telkom Mobile has agreed to amend an advertising campaign for its new, low-cost Sim-Sonke prepaid calling plan after rival Cell C lodged an objection about it at the Advertising Standards Authority.
Cell C took exception to the fact that although Telkom Mobile offers on-network calls for 29c/minute, this offer is “only available in a very narrow range of situations, which are not explained in the advertising”.
The 29c rate is only available for Telkom-to-Telkom calls and all calls to other mobile networks or fixed lines are charged at 75c/minute. Although Cell C conceded that 75c is “very cheap”, the Telkom Mobile ad is “misleading as it implies that the rate is set at 29c”.
“The 29c rate is only available in limited areas where Telkom works off its own network as opposed to piggybacking on other networks to provide coverage,” it said. “The 29c call rate is only available if customers buy a new Sim-Sonke card, and not existing prepaid customers.”
Cell C argued, too, that the Sim-Sonke product does not have some basic services such as data, SMS/MMS bundles and BlackBerry services. “Given that customers expect [these] as part and parcel of any cellphone package, their non-availability is a material condition that should be included in the advertising.”
In response, Telkom Mobile said Cell C had “unfortunately relied on an advertisement that did not reflect the on-net and off-net rates or the limitation on the 29c prepaid call rate”.
The company undertook to amend its advertising by ensuring that provision is made for both 29c on-net and the 75c off-net rate together with the details of the limitations. It also submitted another example where this information was included.
It denied Cell C’s allegation that its 29c call rate offer is available to new customers only or that existing customers will have to change their numbers when using the Sim-Sonke card. Existing prepaid customers can simply migrate to the Sim-Sonke product without having to change their number, it said.
It also said that it does offer data bundles and BlackBerry services on the product as a value-added service, and Cell C had provided no evidence to support its allegation to the contrary.
Because Telkom Mobile undertook to amend its advertising, the Advertising Standards Authority intends to take no further action. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media