Business News of Saturday, 5 January 2013
Disgruntled Vodafone Ghana fixed broadband customers have given notice that they would eventually go on a nationwide demonstration following the ‘breakdown’ of a meeting between them and Vodafone executives on Thursday over the controversial capping system.
“The demonstrations will not stop and we will take it nationwide until something is done about our problem,” leader of Internet Users Association of Ghana, Christian Azu told Adom News.
Azu noted that they have opted for a nationwide demonstration because the meeting with Vodafone on Thursday, January 3, 2013 was a one way affair where Vodafone explained their new packages but did not allow a dialogue on the main concerns of the group.
“We have submitted separate petitions to the National Communications Authority and the Ministry of Communications – we are waiting for their response then we move to our next line of action,” he said.
Azu said the group might eventually seek legal intervention to prevent Vodafone from continuing with the capping system until all the issues are proper resolved.
The group presented a petition to Vodafone Ghana on December 27, 2012 raising issues against the introduction of a 15GB @ GHC65 capped package and calling for a return to the unlimited packages at GHC65, GHC70, GHC105 and GHC200.
Vodafone executives met with Azu and another leader of the disgruntled group of thousands of Vodafone customers on Thursday, and made a Powerpoint presentation of their (Vodafone’s) responses to the issues raised in the petition. The company also presented a written copy of the responses to the two.
Head of Consumer Marketing at Vodafone Ghana, Tara Squire told Adom News after the presentation, Azu and his colleague were allowed to ask questions and their questions were duly addressed.
Squire said there was audio recording of the meeting as evidence that there was dialogue. He promised to make a copy available, and Adom News has since made a verbal request for a copy of the tape but Vodafone is yet to deliver it.
Meanwhile, Azu told Adom News that after the presentation, Squire handed them a written response to their petition and announced that the meeting was over until he (Azu) and his colleague demanded for a dialogue.
According to Azu, in spite of their demands, the Vodafone staff (12 of them at the meeting) refused to dialogue on the main issues, but some police officers present at the meeting rather engaged the two in a dialogue about their gatherings at Vodafone’s office premises, and not the main fbb issues.
Azu noted that the police officers sought to say that the gatherings at Vodafone’s premises constituted a breach of the Public Order Act, “but we corrected that and made them understand that as customers we have a relationship with Vodafone so going into Vodafone’s premises for customer service is not an unlawful invasion or a disturbance of public peace.”
Azu explained that since Vodafone introduced the cap system, their customer service officers have not been able to explain to customers how the system works, and that was why the customers trouped to their offices in their numbers and demanded to speak with management.
He said Vodafone sent text messages to some customers a month before the introduction of the capped system, but not all customers got that text message, and yet the cap system affect thousands of customers who did not receive any text message.
“Those thousands of customers went in individually to Vodafone’s offices to find out why their credits run out without notice – so it was not as if there was a deliberate mass gathering at the company’s premises,” he said.
Meanwhile, Azu also met with the police CID officer on Friday, following an invitation by the police because Vodafone made a report to the police.
Azu told Adom News the meeting was amicable and the police urged them to channel their grievances through the NCA. DSP Edward Odame of the Police CID confirmed that to Adom News.
Meanwhile, Vodafone has said the cap system was introduced as a matter of survival and to ensure fair usage, so there is no way they are going to go back on it.
They have also said they might consider other strategies in the future, but until then , the cap system stays.