Phone rage

Consumer rights activist upset over Digicel rate hike

Telecommunications companies operating here are being accused of playing games with consumers in the wake of this week’s announcement by Digicel that it was raising its rates beginning in the New Year.

The consumer rights agency Barbados Consumer Research Organisation (BarCRO) is incensed at the companies’ treatment of customers, stopping just short of accusing both Digicel and Flow of exploiting consumers by using gimmickry to first lock them in before moving the proverbial goal post.

“It is not good enough for the consumer. Right now it is not benefiting the consumer to go with either company quite frankly, because they play games with the consumer. They wait until enough people have gone on board then do foolishness,” Director General Malcolm Gibbs-Taitt told Barbados TODAY Friday afternoon.

Malcolm Gibbs-Taitt

In an undated advisory titled, Rate Adjustment on Mobile and Data Services on its website, Digicel announced a hike in its mobile and data rates and an end to the absorption of the increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) imposed by Government  last year.

The Irish company blamed the increased cost of doing business here for the rates rise, and explained that the VAT absorption was a “gesture of goodwill” in observance of the country’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.

The company’s Chief Executive Officer Conor Looney had reported last February that Digicel had seen a rise in its customer base since announcing on January 8, 2016 that it would absorb the additional 4.5 per cent VAT on mobile phone use.

Conor Looney

Gibbs-Taitt Friday appeared to brush off Digicel’s explanation, while arguing that in an environment where competition was lacking, the authorities had a duty to protect the consumer by curtailing the prevalent freehand approach.

“Digicel, like Cable and Wireless, should be regulated, and further, I think all cell phone [companies] in Barbados should be regulated because we do not appear to have property competition. Where competition is lacking, regulation must take its place.

“It is not good enough [that there are] two mobile companies or two internet companies, then all of a sudden you hear that the said two companies merge . . . and that is to the detriment of the consumer,” the BarCRO boss said in reference to the US$1.85-billion acquisition of Columbus International Inc, the operators of Flow, by Cable and Wireless Communications, Plc, the parent company for LIME, which now operates as Flow.

Last year’s merger left Flow and Digicel as the only telecommunications providers here.

Gibbs-Taitt argued that consumers must also take some of the blame for their disadvantaged position in the current business climate because they continued to undervalue their worth.

“There is no doubt that the consumer is king but here in Barbados consumers don’t think much of themselves. But the day consumers ever get serious about themselves all other entities will regret it because you cannot be [successful as a businessman] in any country if you don’t have consumers,” he stressed.

The changes to Digicel’s prepaid rates take effect on January 3, 2017 and those for postpaid on February 1, 2017.

28 Responses to Phone rage

  1. Jennifer December 31, 2016 at 3:01 am

    “But the day consumers ever get serious about themselves all other entities will regret it”. This is the main problem, we only talk but do little to nothing. Being f— over by these people all the time.

    Same thing I said you think you will get competition by letting more of the same come in, then they will join together and put their foot on your neck. This is the natural characteristic of the eagle.

  2. Tony Webster December 31, 2016 at 4:55 am

    I just decided to be much, much more, brief, succinct, and quick…in my cellphone communications. Will “C U later” or yuh cud “ me”. Data? I nevah, NEVAH use it on de cell.

  3. Bobby Gilkes
    Bobby Gilkes December 31, 2016 at 6:25 am

    Not picking sides did you really think digicel would of absorb the vat for every come on man yes both of them does do foolishness but flow said straight we putting on the vat and this is what the rates gine look like and who with flow went along merrily and to me as a consumer i always prefer the straight up approach

    • L.singh December 31, 2016 at 6:40 am

      I agree with you. …I trust FLOW these days they be a very different company as they run by liberty global now!

  4. bobolee popo December 31, 2016 at 6:34 am

    FLOW…..the better net-work

  5. L.singh December 31, 2016 at 6:34 am

    We bajans be enlightened to hear Mr.Osborne comments…as he was so quick to go to press in January on the below stunt! The company takes its orders man…da owner….The rest be followers…..

  6. jrsmith December 31, 2016 at 6:43 am

    As i always say ,Barbados is used as a guinea pig and you cant fight the cartel , barbados needs more local sourcing of the telecom business . I am living in the UK for my mobile/cellphone I have the choice of many simm card companies, I had too much problems with 2 of the major companies , where it came to a point I threaten to take one to court ..
    For me I will never have a contract with any large mobile company will prefer to use the drums to communicate….

    Simple just buy your phone which is unlock , choose the cheapest simm card and away you go.. and this is in rip of Britain.
    For about 9 months now I was paying ( £10 ) per month for my simm card… 3p per minute for calling , 2p for data and 1p for texting.. and now with (Whats up ) even cheaper , some people it serve them right , buying all these expensive phones just a waste of money plus the contracts………

    Wishing all my sweet bajan people a (Happy and very prosperous New Year) and be careful be positive in (2017)

    • L.singh December 31, 2016 at 8:51 am

      Your living in a highly regulated country with huge competition that’s exactly what Bajans need here

  7. Kelly Gill
    Kelly Gill December 31, 2016 at 6:46 am

    They didn’t absorb anything. Their data plans went up since January.

  8. Margreet Thompson
    Margreet Thompson December 31, 2016 at 7:22 am

    That the thing don’t come with tricks and gimmicks when they know in reality they have done nothing and making millions off said customers and whereas in other Caribbean countries they are receiving top up incentives etc. What about loyalty packages for the customers….unfortunately these two companies command the Caribbean market and other mobile companies seems to be afraid to come…maybe they think the numbers in the Caribbean might be too small for them to make a meaningful profit….it’s going to be interesting to see what government ministers say especially seeing a lot of the government departments are now carrying digicel land-line numbers…it’s clear that they need to have fair trading regulations sanctions like FLOW

  9. Sherlock Holmes. December 31, 2016 at 7:27 am

    This company is in financial trouble period, they have denied it, but it is now clear that they were not being truthful in their efforts to refute the information that was published in a recent article in a section of the media. I am also very curious about certain allegations concerning the role they played in Haiti .

  10. Julian Marshall
    Julian Marshall December 31, 2016 at 7:32 am

    Yuh see y yuh shouldn’t jump on de band wagon and abandon ship…ppl left flow and went digicel and now look..i sticking wid flow to de end cuz at d end uh de day digicel ain’t nuh better…

  11. Rawle Spooner
    Rawle Spooner December 31, 2016 at 7:56 am

    Yip everyone comes around and takes Bajans for a ride but yet the slimy dirty politicians sit back and allow it and the consumers just play nice and complain.Weak labour and consumer protections, Barbados just the ATM of the Caribbean plus one got to wonder how much taxpayer money these two crooked companies got from government.

  12. David Hall December 31, 2016 at 7:57 am

    Unfortunately Barbadians have become so gullible that we fall for every commercial and political gimmick and scam and refuse to come together and boycott these blood-sucking companies and worthless politicians. When will we wake up?

  13. David E Hall
    David E Hall December 31, 2016 at 7:59 am

    Unfortunately we Barbadians have become so gullible that we fall for every commercial and political gimmick and scam and refuse to come together and boycott these blood-sucking companies and dump these worthless politicians. When will we wake up? As a result of our apathy, everybody comes into this country and takes advantage of Barbadians because our so called leaders seldom protect us but seem only content with perks and kickbacks. Damn them for their egotistical, narcissistic, opportunistic evil ways.

  14. 3rdsun December 31, 2016 at 8:05 am

    Didn’t Digicel hike rates in December 2015 prior to the VAT, then say in January they absorbing it. Lol

  15. 3rdsun December 31, 2016 at 8:10 am

    Mr Gibbs forgot to mention Digicel’s takeover of Cingular Wireless being as bad for competition in the same light as Cable & Wireless takeover of Flow. So it’s both of them use the same tricks imo.

  16. Shonel Kingston
    Shonel Kingston December 31, 2016 at 8:19 am

    Me I put a little 10 dollars in my phone just to say I and bye and wen i get home my flow WiFi working

  17. Daniel Polonis
    Daniel Polonis December 31, 2016 at 8:33 am

    maybe they both can explain why they block free apps like whatsapp from working….that is illegal

  18. Rick Forde
    Rick Forde December 31, 2016 at 8:33 am

    WiFi to de world

  19. L.singh December 31, 2016 at 8:49 am

    Get gifted !!! Ha lol…..what a joke shop. Me stick with me FLOW

  20. Peter December 31, 2016 at 10:08 am

    Let’s be realistic and honest here. Operating any business in Barbados is mostly unprofitable. If you give away your ass, you’ll sheet through your mouth. Digicel tried for one year to assist people with this tax imposed by this government. People are in business to make a profit. Jesus workrd for God for three years and he was killed. Do what you have to do Digicel. Voters will X zzdem out when the time comes. DEM know that.

  21. Alew December 31, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    Digicel announced a hike in its mobile and data rates and an end to the absorption of the increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) imposed by Government last year.

    As far as I see it, there was an offer by Digicel and there was an acceptance by the people of Barbados who switched to Digicel and those who remained with Digicel.
    Digicel should be made to continue their “absorption of the 4.5 % VAT” hands down. Let them find other ways to reduce operating expenses.
    W@hat they should have done initially is to state a period for which they will absorb the 4.5% VAT. This was misleading.

    • Dcumetnaycj December 31, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      That’s a great idea and comment… power in numbers here !

    • L.singh December 31, 2016 at 4:41 pm

      Great comment

  22. Dcumetnaycj January 2, 2017 at 7:36 am

    Come on Digicel CEO…. where are your new prices… stated on your website from new years day….!!??

  23. Dave robers January 2, 2017 at 10:50 am

    Digicel just increased by $5 on my 30 plan went I went to renew. …!


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