Press release: Bundling ADSL with voice may violate new Consumer Act

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Telkom’s insistence on bundling its ADSL data service with a compulsory voice service may mean that the company is acting in a way that contravenes South Africa’s new Consumer Protection Act (CPA).

That’s according to Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA (ISPA) General Manager, Ant Brooks. He said that section 13(1) of the CPA has clear prescriptions against bundling goods and services in a manner that forces consumers to enter into agreements or transactions they do not require as a condition of buying a certain product or service.

The Act sees such practices as a limitation on the consumer’s right to choose suppliers for each service. According to the Act, compulsory bundling of services is forbidden unless the supplier can prove that it offers economic benefits and convenience to the consumer that outweigh the drawbacks of limiting choice.

Telkom’s ADSL lines are not available in ‘naked’ DSL options, though one can buy a voice service without DSL. ISPA believes that forcing a client to take a voice product and pay a rental fee for a voice line when he or she simply wants a data line is a form of product bundling that is contrary to the CPA, said Brooks.

Telkom would be hard pressed to prove that the bundling of a voice service and ADSL line offers economic benefits or convenience to the subscriber, since many subscribers either want the option of using an alternative voice service provider or do not want a voice service at all, said Brooks.

“Many users regard the voice line rental fee as a ‘Telkom tax’. In many cases, the voice service is not wanted yet consumers are forced to pay for it if they want an ADSL line,” said Brooks. “Telkom is constraining consumer choice with this practice.”

Brooks advised that consumers who believe that Telkom’s voice and data service bundling does not advantage them could file a complaint with the National Consumer Commission (NCC), the regulator that enforces the CPA. The NCC may be contacted on 0860 266 786 or by fax 0861 515 259 or send an email to ncc@thedti.gov.za

Further Information

For further information, please contact the ISPA secretariat on the Contact ISPA page.