Question posted in the Consumer Protection Law category relating to Gauteng
Question value: R 300.00
I am seeking legal advise and action on one of the telco service providers. I have a two year cellphone contract and got a bill of cR13k for roaming. I have numerously requested for itemised billing to ascertain the usage and a copy of my contract to no avail. The only response I have received is that they have checked and can confirm that the roaming bill is correct. That is not the point though I also need to satisfy myself before paying. My account has been suspended since Jan/ Feb but the monthly deduction (per my 24 month contract are continuing).
I am extremely frustrated as I feel I am being bullied to pay because big brother says so and they have no obligation to provide proof liability (as they do with voice and sms usage). The latest correspondence is that the matter is managed by their legal department.
Is this a matter you can assist me with? If so what is the process and rates?
Answer to the Question
Hi there and thank you for your question,
This is a question that is often asked on a number of online forums, so you're not alone.
I think what you're talking about is itemised billing in respect of data services (3G/4G) that you've used on your phone while roaming, and not voice calls or SMS messages.
Most of these operators can't actually give you itemised billing for data services, because of the nature of the data services. An itemised account would run into literally thousands of pages because of the way the internet works and how "packets" of information are sent.
All their system does is to continue to add up the data size of all of these data packets, and at the end of the month they can tell you how much data you used.
Most phones have their own data counter software built into them (like iPhone / Android) which can tell you exactly which applications used data in a certain window of time and how much data was used by the app. You should check this.
Keep in mind that these service providers charge up to R2.50 / MB of data, which means that your bill of R13k represents approximately 5.2GB of data.
Are you sure that you didn't stream a movie to your phone, or link your phone to your laptop and stream a movie there? Or do a big download?
Essentially they don't have any obligation to prove to you exactly how you used your data. They simply total it up, and bill you for it.
If you refuse to pay the bill they suspend your account and issue a summons for the arrears. They will then mess you around in court until you pay.
Your BEST bet is to agree with them that you will pay 70% (as an example) of the bill, over 6 months, and that they un-block your account and let you continue to use your contract.
Otherwise, you'll need to hire a lawyer to issue a high court application to force the service provider to hand over whatever records they have... but this will cost you many times more than the R13k that you're fighting about, and there is a risk that you lose the case.
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