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RA dismisses Digicel complaint but says North Rock must stop ‘Bundles’ flyer

The new Regulatory Authority has dismissed a complaint by Digicel against North Rock in its first decision in a telecoms industry dispute.

But it said North Rock had to discontinue its “Blazing Bundles” flyer as it may have been misleading to customers.

Commenting yesterday on the decision, RA chief executive Philip Micallef said it was the RA’s “first decision regarding our first complaint lodged with us.”

He added: “The RA believes that clarity upfront of what a carrier is selling is an extremely important element in ensuring that customer is better informed to put him/her in a better position to make the right buying choices.”

Digicel complained March 18 that North Rock was providing bundling services and should not be doing so until Integrated Communication Operating Licenses (ICOLs) were issued.

In its response to the complaint, North Rock informed the Regulatory Authority that as per its license it was authorised to provide long distance, internet and wireless access.

Customers could select one or all of these services. North Rock stated that it does not provide any discounts if a customer selected multiple services.

“North Rock Communications is pleased that the Regulatory Authority deemed that we were operating within our telecommunications licence. Blazing Bundles is an effective marketing campaign that customers embraced,” the company’s general manager Vicki Coelho said yesterday in response to the decision.

In its decision, the RA said an example of an invoice was supplied to show that long distance, internet and wireless access are all billed individually. They are on one bill.

“North Rock stated that it was not offering anything new from what it did in the past but just changed the tag line from “Get it Together” in their marketing campaigns to “Blazing

Bundles”, the RA said, adding: “Digicel were asked to quote which provision of the TA86 or the ECA or the RAA North Rock were contravening and Digicel replied that no provisions were being contravened yet it was the established policy of the Department of Telecommunications not to allow any bundling services prior to the issue of Integrated Communication Operating Licenses (ICOLs).

The Regulatory Authority said it therefore did not find North Rock providing any services outside its license obligations and was not contravening any of its terms and conditions.

The Regulatory Authority found that North Rock was authorised to provide the following services: a) Voice Services using wireless technology; b) Data public telecommunication service using wire or wireless technology.

The Regulatory Authority also noted that one of the terms and conditions in North Rock’s license expressly stated that International voice and international data services must be provided through the facilities of the licensed Class A carriers.

“The services advertised by North Rock on the flyer were not being offered at any discount,” the RA said.

“The flyer has in fact a note in the form of an asterisk stating “does not include home phone and long distance” but the Regulatory Authority does not find this clear enough for customers.

“The Regulatory Authority does not find Digicel’s claim as correct for all the reasons cited above.

“The Regulatory Authority is however of the opinion that although North Rock is not offering discounts the advertising in the flyer is not clear enough in explaining this and is not clear enough in stating that the prices on the flyer are only related to the internet prices and just access to long distance and wireless access.

Under its consumer affairs powers the Regulatory Authority kindly requests North Rock to stop continuing with this advertising until such time as the suitable clarifications are made in advertising including but not limited to print and website media and this clarification is also properly explained on North Rock’s website.”

The RA concluded: “North Rock shall supply the Regulatory Authority with a copy of the new advertising material and clarifications for Regulatory Authority approval prior to publication.

One-stop shopping or bundling for phone, internet and TV is expected to finally arrive in phases from the end of April with the new RA, headed by Mr Micallef and chairman Kent Stewart, now up and running and overseeing long-awaited reform of the telecoms industry.

RA deals with Digicel complaint: North Rock says “Blazing Bundles” was an effective marketing campaign. Photo by Glenn Tucker

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Published April 12, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 11, 2013 at 5:41 pm)

RA dismisses Digicel complaint but says North Rock must stop ‘Bundles’ flyer

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