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Cell C buyout tariffs 'incredibly confusing'

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Cell C's Epic call rates are complex and not as cheap as they may at first appear.
Cell C's Epic call rates are complex and not as cheap as they may at first appear.

While Cell C's latest Contract Buyout offer has been lauded by some as a potential market-shaker, closer inspection reveals the "Epic" tariffs associated with it are "incredibly confusing" - to the point of being misleading.

Earlier this month, around mid-May, Cell C launched a promotion - aimed at luring contract customers from competitors - that has since drawn both interest and debate. The Contract Buyout offer promises "up to R10 000" to help consumers buy themselves out of their current contracts.

In exchange for the amount Cell C determines is due to the subscriber, customers need to take up one of Cell C's Epic packages.

At the time of launch, market watchers said the move - which Cell C CEO Jose Dos Santos said would give rivals "a good smack" - was "astonishing" and cut-throat. However, they reserved final judgment, saying the tactic could also result in the underdog operator cutting its own throat.

Deliberately complex?

Antony Seeff, CEO of cellphone bill analysis company Tariffic, has scrutinised the seven Epic contract deals on offer to consumers who take up the buyout promo. He says the way the contracts are structured is "so incredibly confusing", and potentially misleading to consumers.

"What happens is that you are allocated a certain amount of 'value'/airtime based on the contract you choose," he explains.

"For example, the Epic 200 contract will give you R200 value and cost you R129, while the Epic 650 will give you R650 value for a price of R449." This means R1.89 per minute of voice calls will effectively cost customers between R1.22 and R1.31 - based on how much they are paying.

"When you go out of bundle, you'll then be paying an effective R1.89 per minute. Confusing right?"

The bottom line, says Seeff, is the rates are not cheap. Cell C's Straight Up tariff, for example, is R1.05 per minute. "[The rates] are (purposely?) very complex, and potentially misleading. Consumers think they're getting R200 worth of airtime for a price of R129, but this really isn't the case based on the rates they're charging."

EPIC
100

EPIC
150

EPIC
200

EPIC
350

EPIC
500

EPIC
650

EPIC
1000

Price

R69

R99

R129

R229

R339

R449

R699

Incl Value

R100

R150

R200

R350

R500

R650

R1 000

Call rate

R1,89

Data rate

R0,99

SMS rate

R0,50

Effective Call rate

R1,30

R1,25

R1,22

R1,24

R1,28

R1,31

R1,32

Effective data rate

R0,68

R0,65

R0,64

R0,65

R0,67

R0,68

R0,69

Effective SMS rate

R0,35

R0,33

R0,32

R0,33

R0,34

R0,35

R0,35

Effective Call
Out of bundle rate

R1,89

R1,89

R1,89

R1,89

R1,89

R1,89

R1,89

Effective Data
Out of bundle rate

R0,99

R0,99

R0,99

R0,99

R0,99

R0,99

R0,99

Effective SMS
Out of bundle rate

R0,50

R0,50

R0,50

R0,50

R0,50

R0,50

R0,50

See also