Consumer Council of Fiji CEO Premila Kumar. File Photo.

The Consumer Council of Fiji is urging Vodafone Fiji to re-examine its marketing strategy and avoid using its own customers to market its products by bordering on invasion of privacy.

The call comes in light of several complaints/queries received by the Council from consumers concerning Vodafone’s Hello Tunes feature.

Hello Tunes provides subscribers the option to replace the common, “ring ring” sound on their mobile phone when someone calls them with music selections of their choice. Subscription to Hello Tunes costs $1.98 per download with a monthly subscription fee of $0.99 per month after 30 days from the initial setup.

The Council is concerned particularly with the invasive manner to which Vodafone is currently marketing this Hello Tunes feature.

Currently, Vodafone has inserted a mini advertisement in the hello tune subscribers instructing the caller to“Press * to copy this Hello Tune”.Previously this was not the case. Consumers that have subscribed onto Hello Tunes have paid for a Hello Tune to be played when someone calls their number. Hello Tune subscribers are paying for the song which they want their callers to hear. Consumers should get exactly what they paid for which is the Hello Tunes alone and no unnecessary extras such as Vodafone’s Hello Tune advertisement.

Vodafone has failed in this instance, to advise and get the consent of the subscriber before inserting this advertisement into their Hello Tune. If Hello Tune was free, Vodafone could have inserted its advertisement but how can they insert their advertisement when it’s a paid service?

The Council is calling on Vodafone to remove this mini advertisement from the Hello Tunes and give consumers exactly what they have paid for i.e. A Hello Tunes free of Vodafone’s mini advertisement.

A second feature with Hello Tunes that is of concern to the Council is the fact that consumers are now being called at random by Vodafone (Hello Tunes Number ‘191’).

When answered, consumers automatically get logged into the Hello Tunes subscriber instruction menu -imposing on consumers to subscribe to Hello Tunes.

Yet again, Vodafone has not taken the customers’ permission to call them.

The Council is calling for Vodafone to stop making these random Calls to consumers for Hello Tunes as they have not consented to them. Alternatively,  make it an option for consumers to receive promotional calls as a tick box on the registration form where consumers can make a choice to receive these calls or not. 

Vodafone’s registration form gives the ‘tick box’ option for consumers to ‘not receive any promotional messages’ and to ‘not register for M-Paisa’ –  why couldn’t Vodafone include this  as a third tick box option for consumers to ‘not subscribe to Hello Tunes’?

Thirdly, Vodafone had recently included the Hello Tunes as a default feature of the SIM. Anyone that purchased a SIM card would automatically have a Hello Tune of Vodafone’s choice loaded on the SIM.

The Council highlighted to Vodafone that consumers should be given a choice to opt in to Hello Tunes as opposed to Vodafone making it compulsory for all consumers to have Hello Tunes when they purchase a SIM card.

Following our  investigation,  Vodafone has now removed Hello Tune as a default feature  of the SIM.

Vodafone must remove this mini advertisement immediately which is being paid by the subscriber.

Premila Kumar

Chief Executive Officer

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