Vodafone slapped Rs.5 mn fine for prize scheme

May 17th, 2008 - 7:32 pm ICT by admin  

By Kanu Sarda
New Delhi, May 17 (IANS) Terming its prize scheme on more talk-time usage a case of “corporate greed”, a consumer court has imposed a fine of Rs.5 million on leading mobile service provider Vodafone Essar. “The company is indirectly promoting its business by offering prizes of 10 gold coins a day and one bumper prize of Maruti SX4 car to its subscribers whose talk-time is more than 20 minutes a day, which is unfair,” said Justice J.D. Kapoor, president of the Delhi State Consumer Commission.

Justice Kapoor, in his order Friday, directed that out of the fine amount Rs.100,000 shall be paid to the Society of Catalysts, a consumer voluntary organisation which had filed the complaint, and the remaining shall be deposited in the Delhi State Consumer Welfare Fund (legal aid).

Vodafone had recently launched a scheme in which subscribers using talk-time of more than 20 minutes a day stood a chance to win gold coins every day and a car in a draw.

To become eligible for the scheme, a large number of subscribers made unwanted and unnecessary calls, the complaint said.

The complaint was filed through former Delhi chief secretary Omesh Saigal who argued the case in person.

Denying the charge, Vodafone said the purpose of the scheme was first for the benefit of its high-end users, second for the benefit of the subscribers as a whole and third to reward their loyalty and usage and not to promote the firm’s business interest.

Justice Kapoor rejected the firm’s plea and observed that if it was for the benefit of high-end users then every subscriber who had in the past called for more than 20 minutes a day should have been given prizes and if it was for the general benefit of all subscribers the scheme should have been open to all and not restricted to those with talk-time of more than 20 minutes a day.

The NGO had conducted a sample survey and found that at least 10 percent of the subscribers were aware of the scheme and were making unnecessary calls to participate in the contest.

The survey showed more than 40 million subscribers participated in this contest.

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