Local billionaire Wendy Appelbaum has launched a legal battle with Vodacom over what she has termed “force feed payments”, or out-of-bundle charges.
According to Destiny Magazine, South African billionaire Wendy Appelbaum has instructed her lawyers to try and persuade Vodacom to cease issuing out-of-bundle charges that sit over and above a user’s monthly contract bill.
Appelbaum is a leading South African entrepreneur who chairs De Morgenzon Estate – a wine farm and agricultural business based in Stellenbosch. Beyond holding various directorships, Appelbaum is a noted philanthropist and is a trustee of the Donald Gordon Foundation, one of the largest charitable foundations in Africa.
Appelbaum has claimed that networks do not warn adequately warn their subscribers that they are about to exceed their monthly bundle, and subsequently force subscribers to make stop-order payments for invoices that they haven’t previously agreed to. The philanthropist has voiced her view that the practice amounts to fraud.
The billionaire has posed the argument that networks should soft-block accounts and warn consumers that they have reached their spending limit; should they not, Appelbaum argues that this is in contravention of the National Credit Act.
For now, Appelbaum’s attention is fixed on Vodacom – which is South Africa’s largest mobile network provider – though the implications of any court cast could well affect other operators.
Vodacom has acknowledged that it has received communication from Appelbaum and her lawyers, though the company has refused to offer comment on whether her request had merit. The company has since confirmed that it is not in possession of any court papers served by or on behalf of Appelbaum.
Other local networks have been quick to offer comment – according to MyBroadband, MTN has confirmed that they have similarly not recieved any correspondence from Appelbaum or legal representatives, but that the company ‘strives to remain transparent’ in communicating out-of-bundle charges with customers.
Cell C has similarly stated that it has not been contacted by Appelbaum or her legal team, and has clarified that it does have a soft-lock option for consumers seeking to avoid out-of-bundle charges.
What are your thoughts? Should Appelbaum pursue a case against Vodacom and other local networks? How have out-of-bundle charges affected you personally? Be sure to let us know your opinion in the comments below!