No more cellphone bill blues

Cellphone subscribers who have tried in vain to compel their service providers to notify them when their bills have reached a certain limit will no longer have to suffer the stress.

The Wireless Application Service Providers Association (Waspa) will in future ensure that your service provider respects your desired limit.

Two weeks ago the association appointed Sizwe Snail as an adjudicator tasked with resolving any complaints cellphone consumers might have with Waspa's 147 affiliated members.

Snail's office will compel all South African Waspa providers to notify subscribers when their bills reach the sum of R300.

Waspa chairman Leon Perlman says the subscriber will have to explicitly provide consent before incurring any further bills for that particular service.

"This latest consumer protection strategy will prevent subscribers from ringing up huge bills because they will always be aware of having reached a certain key threshold," Perlman says.

Waspa recently introduced a raft of consumer protection measures, with a new set of advertising rules that came into effect earlier this month.

Perlman says the R300 threshold rule and other new Waspa code of conduct measures will ensure that the industry is better able to enforce ethical behaviour among its members to protect the interests of consumers.

This move comes months after Vodacom subscribers lost thousands of rands trying to win one of the 100 BMWs that were up for grabs.

l Bongiwe Mkhwanazi says the initiative is good, though it comes a bit too late for victims of the win a BMW competition Vodacom ran in December last year.

Mkhwanazi is one of the rent-as-you-go subscribers who took a chance to win a Beemer.

Mkhwanazi says she stopped after spending R2000 on the competition.

lHendrikus Wessels, a Cape Town pensioner, ran up a bill of R48000 by entering Vodacom's 100 BMWs in 100 Days promotion.

Each SMS entry cost R10.

Only when his bill reached R48000 did someone from Vodacom contact Wessels with the news.

Vodacom then demanded R48000, which he could not pay until Virgin Mobile stepped in to pay his exorbitant SMS bill.

The National Lotteries Board investigated and stopped the competition in February, leaving a number of casualties that included a man who had won a Beemer.

Apart from losing the Beemer, the man subsequently lost his job when his employer discovered that he had been using company airtime to enter the competition.