Cell C has accused rival operators of “deliberate attempts” to prevent their clients from cancelling their contracts early by charging them “excessive and unreasonable” cancellation penalties.
However, Cell C has not named the operators which it claims have engaged in this practice.
“While the Consumer Protection Act allows network providers to charge a reasonable cancellation penalty when customers wish to terminate their contracts early, Cell C has been made aware of certain instances where some of the network providers are charging customers more to cancel their contracts early than to stay in their contract for the full term,” the company said in a statement.
“This means that customers who are unhappy with their current network provider and wish to move to Cell C have to pay for future services that they will never receive.
But it’s now claiming that its rivals – unnamed – are not playing fair.
“In some instances, customers are required to pay the full service or subscription fee for the remaining months of the contract, plus an additional early termination charge to leave the network provider.”
It said that regulation 5 of the Consumer Protection Act “clearly specifies that ‘the cancellation penalty charges cannot be an amount which would have the effect of negating the consumers’ right to cancel a fixed-term consumer agreement’”.
“The right to cancel is one which is specifically afforded to all consumers in terms of the act,” Cell C said.
“While Cell C understands that network providers must recover the cost of the handset, unreasonable charges for future services that the customer will never receive is in contravention of the act, and Cell C believes this does not constitute a reasonable fee.”
It said that it only charges customers the outstanding handset amount when they cancel a contract. “Cell C does not charge customers subscription fees for the remaining contract period or any additional early termination charge.”
The company also accused its rivals – again, not naming them – of using tactics to delay the cancellation process.
“Some customers have also complained that their current service provider will only allow them to port out to Cell C once their account has been fully settled. In addition, some customers have been told that they first need to cancel their existing contract before their number will be released for porting purposes.
“The mobile number portability regulations set out specific grounds where a network provider may reject a request to port to another network. The reasons provided by some of the service providers are not listed grounds in terms of the regulations, and rejection of a request to port based on such grounds is in direct contravention of these regulations.” — (c) 2015 NewsCentral Media