Vodacom has agreed to pay a R1-million fine imposed on it the National Consumer Tribunal over a disputed 75% contract cancellation fee policy that was found to be in contravention of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).
“Vodacom will comply with [the tribunal’s] determination and plans to continue co-operating with the National Consumer Commission, as has been its practice, on any future consumer- and customer-related concerns,” a Vodacom spokeswoman told TechCentral.
The fine, which forms part a 13 October ruling by the consumer tribunal, follows an investigation by the commission of 21 instances of complaints against the mobile operator relating to its contract cancellation policy and how customers who sought to cancel their contracts were treated.
The complaints under investigation all relate to the 2021 and 2022 financial years.
“In some instances, the complaints relate to a delay in the timeous cancellation of the contracts upon request by customers, resulting in the customers being charged for periods after having requested the cancellation of their contract,” the tribunal said in its ruling.
Although the consumer commission sought for a heftier fine of R20-million and for Vodacom to refund the customers outlined in its application to the tribunal, the tribunal levied a R1-million penalty in accordance with the CPA, which does not allow for a fine greater than 10% of the respondent’s (Vodacom’s) turnover or a maximum of R1-million. The tribunal did not grant the order for refunds. Vodacom, however, said that some customers were refunded anyway.
“Vodacom had, even before the[tribunal] ruling, reimbursed customers who suffered prejudice because of the former policy,” it said. — (c) 2023 NewsCentral Media