South Africa 1.4.2014 06:00 am

Critics fire salvos at DStv over fees

Image courtesy of stock.xchng

Image courtesy of stock.xchng

MultiChoice has been accused of bad business practices that include overcharging for its DStv services resulting in the non-issuing of regular invoices.

ConsumerFair chairperson Thami Bolani said the organisation has been inundated with complaints related to, among others, the non-issuing of invoices, overcharging and unfair reconnection fees that were not applicable to all DStv customers. 

Bolani said his organisation has been forwarding countless complaints to the National Consumer Commission, since its establishment, to resolve them.

“It is not correct not to give invoices because it creates confusion… Even when you go to their franchise you get quoted one price and if you call them you get given another price, plus the call centre will make you hold for hours.”

Bolani added that he has also been on the receiving end of some of the service failures which have led him to resort to paying his DStv account at MultiChoice’s franchise stores.

“The reconnection fee they charge is also not standard because there are people, including myself, who do not get charged for such. All this is happening because MultiChoice does not have competition,” he said.

“We need them (MultiChoice) to be fair and transparent, especially when they claim to be champions of consumers,” Bolani said.

Contacted for comment, the National Consumer Commission said it needed two days to put together the information requested on the MultiChoice complaints.

Some of the complaints listed on eesh.co.za about DStv echoed the complaints pointed out by Bolani. These ranged from problems experienced after shifting from paying R175 direct to R209 on debit order, being asked to pay R58 as a reconnection fee and an additional R92 all in just one month.
Others went on to complain about the amount of money spent on telephone charges while trying to get through to MultiChoice’s call centre to lodge their complaints. However, MultiChoice denied that it does not issue invoices for its DStv services payments.

“MultiChoice generates an invoice for every customer. These invoices are available to our customers upon request at any time. We proactively send invoices via e-mail to our customers who have provided us with an e-mail address,” DStv said in an e-mailed response.

Asked why the company charged a reconnection fee for a pre-paid service and this was not standard, MultiChoice said it bills monthly in advance, “which means customers pay at the beginning of the month to access the DStv service for the month ahead”.

The company said it only charged a fee of R50 and R10 for DStv EasyView customers if services were disconnected due to non-payment and that the fee was standard across all packages, except its cheapest offering, DStv EasyView.

When The Citizen visited the MultiChoice website on www.multichoice.co.za it did not show the cost of its various packages apart from that of the DStv Extra.

However, the company said: “The DStv website lists the prices of all the DStv packages – that is the main website for the DStv service. Customers can even compare the different packages on http://selfservice.dstv.com/get-dstv/compare-packages.

“MultiChoice does not overcharge our customers – we adhere to all Consumer Protection Act requirements and our business is audited annually,” the company said.

According to annual results released by Naspers in June 2013, MultiChoice’s DStv services around 6 739 000 households across Africa. In South Africa alone, there are over 4 451 000 subscribers. Naspers’ pay-television operations had generated R30-billion in revenue in a year. The company boosted R7.6 billion in annual profits.

 

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