The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has issued a Show Cause Notice to Telenor Pakistan for prima facie violating Section 10 of the Competition Act 2010 by deceptively marketing the price and geographical availability of its 4G services.
ZONG Pakistan sent a formal complaint against Telenor to the CCP saying that its 4G marketing campaign was wrongly claiming that “Telenor 4G services absolutely free” and that “4G services available across Pakistan.” Zong said that Telenor was not only misleading consumers but also harming the business interest of its competitors.
CCP’s inquiry found that against the claim of providing “Telenor 4G services absolutely free”, Telenor was only offering the first 100 MBs of data free of cost. Customers paid for any additional usage after that limit.
As for Telenor’s claim of “Nationwide Availability/Across Pakistan,” the inquiry report said that this was giving a general impression, albeit wrongly, that 4G services were available across Pakistan. Moreover, the list of seven cities given in the disclaimer, i.e., “Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Multan, Faisalabad,” where 4G services were available was also misleading as 4G service was only available at select points in these cities.
The inquiry report concluded that the Telenor’s marketing campaign for the above products and services was deceptive and prima facie violated Section 10 of the Competition Act.
Furthermore, the illegible disclaimers at the end of advertisements were insufficient and could hardly clarify the above-stated claim to consumers. A Show Cause Notice has been served on Telenor Pakistan as recommended in the inquiry report.
In response to our query, Telenor Pakistan issued the following statement:
“Telenor Pakistan is an ethical and law-abiding corporate entity and carries out its operations in accordance with law and conducts all business activities responsibly. We always strive to maintain clear communication with our valued customers and ensure that there is no ambiguity as far as our package plans or pricing is concerned.
“The 4G campaign in question was launched in 2016 and we clarified in our communication that internet usage is free for first 100MBs. Also, our claim regarding the reach of our 4G services in certain cities was specified and intended to mark the availability of services in those cities without specifically claiming blanket coverage in any number of locations or cities. The said campaign is already over. We are contesting the matter before CCP.
“Telenor Pakistan strives to bring the benefits of internet to the people of Pakistan and to give access to quality content under our Internet For All ambition and we are fully committed towards the fulfillment of our ambition through aggressive network expansion, one of the fastest growing 4G footprint and introduction of digital products and services to cater to the needs of the masses.