Wendy Appelbaum, the South African billionaire who has made a name out of fighting for the underdog, is turning her attention towards the mobile phone industry which stands accused of multiple violation of consumer rights, some of which border on fraud.
Appelbaum is reported to be taking aim at South Africa’s largest mobile phone operator, Vodacom, for its practice of force feeding customers out of bundle fees. This happens when the contractual airtime limit is reached and painfully higher out of bundle charges kick in without notification. Many customers have complained about this practice which has seen customers forced to pay huge mobile phone bills.
The reporter of this article has experienced this injustice. With a contract to be allocated data amounting to about R500, his bill for December 2015 shot up to R13 000 without any warning. Some customers are known to have been made to pay much more than that.
Calling this practice blatant fraud that it is, Appelbaum is said to be taking up the battle against out of bundle charges with Vodacom. This will send a message to other players, MTN and Cell C who stand accused of the same practice.
Complaints against mobile phone companies are plenty and protest is growing. The Right2Know Campaign has for a while led a battle against high mobile phone fees. Most recently, a new campaign titled Data Must Fall arose featuring celebrity names like Gareth Cliff and Tbo Touch (Thabo Molefe).
The list of abuse served by mobile phone companies is long and includes miraculous disappearance purchased airtime. They also refuse to rollover more than one month old unused airtime.