The Federal Government has demanded that South Africa’s MultiChoice must compensate its Nigerian customers for the frequent service disruptions they experience.
The demand was made by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC). According to the FCCPC, the disruptions are often caused by failed, faulty, poor or unprofessional installation of dishes.
Therefore, in defence of customers, the commission considers it unprofessional and unethical to subject innocent subscribers to suffering due to the inadequacies of MultiChoice.
As part of demands from the commission, requests were made for subscribers to be provided with the option of periodically suspending subscription no less than three times yearly for up to 14 days in each instance. More so, subscribers should have free and automatic access to the prevailing selected local free-to-air channels.
What led to this? The service provider had, on several occasions, defaulted on the terms governing its operations. To this end, the firm was served 11 directives and a “Final Order” issued when it increased its subscription tariffs despite a court order barring it from doing so.
Exercising its constituted authorities, the FCCPC, on June 17th, 2018 filed a suit against the company. Part of the suit reads thus;
in line with its new mandate following the President’s signing of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2018 (FCCPA) in January, the commission submitted (to the press) a document containing the case. The document reads in parts;
“…instead of abiding by that understanding and executing the Consent Order at the proposed time agreed, MultiChoice rather increased subscription rates (a material term of the Subscription Agreement) in pre-emption to executing the Consent Order.
“The FCCPC considering this a demonstration of bad faith engaged MultiChoice unsuccessfully, and as such, ultimately filed an action to enjoin MultiChoice to return to honouring the mutual understandings with the FCCPC, and subject itself to the authority and jurisdiction of the FCCPC.”
The FCCPC further explained in the document that instead of obeying court orders, MultiChoice went ahead to challenge its validity. In the long-run, consumers were left to suffer for it.
“Considering that consumers were not receiving the benefits of the proposed modification of MultiChoice’s approach to consumer protection while the case remained pending, the Commission after broad legal consultation and interpretation of the law decided to proceed with entering an order against MultiChoice anyway.”