At a recent public hearing on draft regulations proposed for data expiry and out-of-bundle billing, the National Consumer Commission (NCC) stated their view that data bundles should have a minimum expiry period of 3 years, in line with Section 63 of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).
In some cases in the telecommunications industry, data bundles expire as soon as 30 days after purchase by consumers. Questions have long been asked on the fairness of losing the use of goods or services already paid for.
Section 63 of the CPA deals with prepaid certificates, credits and vouchers. It states that a prepaid certificate, card, credit, voucher or similar device does not expire earlier than “the date on which its full value has been redeemed in exchange for goods or services or future access to services” or “3 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”.
In July 2015 the NCC partnered with the telecommunications industry regulator Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), in a co-operative working agreement to address consumer complaints and to remedy the data expiry matter.
ICASA recently published the Draft End-User and Subscriber Service Charter Regulations for comment. The draft regulations propose that network providers give data depletion notifications at regular intervals, as well as notifications when the data bundle has run out. The draft regulations also proposes to amend the validity period of data before expiry.
The NCC tried to work with ICASA to implement regulations in its industry, however, with the proposed regulations not being in line with the CPA and noting the NCC’s opposing view, it may seek a High Court ruling on this legislation before it is implemented.
It shows that the NCC is standing firm in promoting consumer rights, stating that they will not sell consumers out on what they are legally entitled to.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jan Oosthuizen obtained his LLB degree from the North-West University and completed his articles of clerkship at Braam Swart & Partners in George. He is currently a SEESA Consumer Protection & POPI Legal Advisor at our Pretoria office.