CAPTION: Consumer Council of Fiji CEO Premila Kumar. Photo: SHALENDRA PRASAD.
The Consumer Council is urging Vodafone to reduce the minimum $5 top up on e-ticketing cards to $2.
The minium $5 top-up is not fair for ordinary and poor consumers. Vodafone should follow the practice in its mobile phone prepaid services where the minimum top-up is $2.
The e-ticketing system should make things convenient for poor consumers who are used to carrying in their pockets the bare minimum for bus fares. Poor commuters, who may not have $5 with them, but have enough cash to cover their bus fares are being put into a difficult position by this system.
During Council’s radio talkback shows and awareness programs in communities and mobile units, consumers have raised their concerns on the mandatory $5 top up. The $5 minimum requirement for e-ticketing card top up is an extra burden on many consumers budget, especially those who are casually employed and put money aside on a per trip basis.
It is ironic that Vodafone is mindful of consumers needs when it comes to selling of mobile recharge cards but ignores consumers need when it comes to bus fare top ups which is a more essential need. If a consumer can recharge their mobile phone for $2, why make minimum top up of $5 for bus fares?
How can Vodafone expect consumers to always carry $5 cash on hand to top up? This is unfair on those consumers who simply can’t afford and lead hand to mouth lifestyle.
The Council believes that a reduction to minimum top up of $2 will allow more consumers to accept the e-ticketing system, without putting them under financial pressure.
Consumers must not be inconvenienced or forced to pay a minimum of $5 for top ups. Had proper consultations been held prior to implementation of the e-ticketing system with relevant authorities and stakeholders, such issues would have been addressed.
The e-ticketing system was supposed to bring about convenience, flexibility and affordability to bus users, rather than being a burden.
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