Cellular service providers can no longer offer schemes exhorting subscribers to make ‘extra’ calls to be eligible for lucrative contests. Declaring it as a “deceptive and unfair trade practice” prohibited under the Consumer Protection Act, the Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has imposed a penalty of Rs 50 lakh on Vodafone Essar Mobile Services for its ‘Baaton se banaiye sona, bees minute mein’ scheme.
Under the scheme announced in July 2007, Vodafone pre-paid or post-paid subscribers whose talk-time was more than 20 minutes a day were eligible. Those eligible stood to win 10 gold coins a day and the ‘bumper prize’ of a Maruti SX4.
Directing Vodafone to “discontinue such a practice forthwith and not to repeat it”, the Commission, headed by Justice J.D. Kapoor said: “It is clear that the contest/lottery is being held not with a view to enrich the phone users, but merely to ensure that they make more calls and thereby generate more revenue and profits (for Vodafone).”