The National Consumer Commission (NCC) has announced that it is investigating mobile network contract price hikes in South Africa.
According to NCC spokesperson, Trevor Hattingh, the probe will look at contract terms and conditions, including the issue of data expiration.
“Currently, network providers provide you with a month in which to consume your data, after which you do not have access to the value of that data anymore, if you had any left by the end of the month,” Hattingh told Fin24.
“That is also something that we are looking into because there’s definitely an inconsistency there from the network operator’s side.
“The network operators provide you with a month, whereas section 63 of the Consumer Protection Act says you must be afforded three years to consume the data,” said Hattingh.
While the NCC investigation is studying terms and conditions of mobile contracts, or postpaid deals, the section of the Consumer Protection Act that Hattingh referred to deals with terms such as ‘prepaid’.
Section 63 (2) of the Consumer Protection Act that Hattingh referred to states:
“A prepaid certificate, card, credit, voucher or similar device contemplated in subsection (1) does not expire until the earlier of — a) the date on which its full value has been redeemed in exchange for goods or services or future access to services; or (b) three years after the date on which it was issued, or at the end of a longer or extended period agreed by the supplier at any time.”
According to Graham de Vries, chief corporate service officer for MTN South Africa, however:
“The three years expiry period in respect of a pre-paid data voucher only applies when a customer does not redeem that voucher or PIN number on the MTN network. The method of redeeming a physical data voucher is when the customer enters the PIN number found on the voucher and the airtime or data is immediately available for usage. As a result of such redemption, the standard expiry rules will apply to the pre-paid data bundles.”