New complaint questions whether DStv’s ‘hidden costs’ should be advertised with decoders

The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) has published the findings of its latest case, which dealt with a dispute between Makro, DStv and an irate customer.

The customer paid the advertised R1,499 for a DStv decoder and installation from Makro.

However, when he phoned DStv to activate the new card, he was informed that recording via the Explora will only be activated at an additional R90,00 per month.

He argued that at no stage – not in the online advertisement nor his discussion with the in-store DStv representative – was any mention made of this additional ‘hidden cost’, and that the reason he had bought that specific DStv decoder was to enjoy the recording functionality.

Response

While the complaint was originally made against Mulitchoice, it argued that it was Makro who had advertised the product and was the retailer.

It added that while the online advertisement did not disclose the R90,00 access fee, information regarding access to the recording functionality of the Explora is provided by Multichoice/ DStv, as a service provider – both on its online platform as well as in its on-air advertisements.

However, Makro argued that the complaint relates to the subscription fees – specifically the monthly recording access fee – and that it does not agree with Multichoice’s allegations in that it does not advertise (or sell) details of the subscription or subscription fees of DStv.

Ruling

The ASA ruled that despite their arguments, both Multichoice and Makro were in fact in agreement that it is not the function of Makro to advertise the subscription elements of the Explora, as Makro sells the hardware and Multichoice sells the subscription.

“The Directorate agrees with this assessment,” it said.

“The price of R1,499 covers the purchase of the hardware and the installation. The advertisement clearly states this. The advertisement makes no mention of the subscription costs for DStv, which are significant, and the complainant does not appear to challenge this.

“This is most likely because the hypothetical reasonable person knows that there is a monthly cost for DStv over and above the cost of the hardware,” it said.

As a result, the ASA noted that the R90 a month extra is part of the subscription cost, and not part of the hardware cost, and if the advertisement had included DStv subscription costs, then it would have been expected to make it clear that there is an additional charge for the Explora functionality

“But given that it advertises only the hardware and installation, the consumer would be expected to consult DStv to ascertain what the subscription implications are,” it said.

“While the Directorate has sympathy with the Complainant being taken by surprise with the extra charge, the reality is that it does not relate to Makro’s product offering and therefore does not fall on Makro to include in its advertising.”


Read: Apple said to plan selling video subscriptions

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