INKK must be investigated

08/04/2008 12:29

The launch of new mobile phone company INKK in November 2007 brought relief to the consumers who wanted choice in the marketplace. Because of the perceived competition in the market, consumers could now expect better service delivery from INKK if they were experiencing difficulties with the monopoly service provider – Vodafone.

However, consumer expectation of true competition is shattered. The Council while investigating a complaint lodged by a consumer regarding INKK charging customers for “text message not sent’, the   Council discovered that this company has no physical address, phone number or fax number where consumers can personally visit or discuss their issues with INKK officials regarding the handsets or the unsolicited SMS charges. This can be further confirmed if one visits their website: http://www.inkkmobile.com.fj  which is much to be desired from a foreign company who boasts of their services in Australia and New Zealand. INKK is the same company that is offering the “Boost” mobile using the Optus network in Australia. Consumers can check the Australian website: http://www.boost.com.au and gauge for themselves the quality of service enjoyed by consumers in Australia as compared to what INKK is offering to our locals.

The Council is concerned that such companies come into Fiji to make profits at the expense of the consumers while the idea of foreign investment is to contribute positively towards our socio-economic development particularly job creation. At the launching of INKK Mobile, Mr O'Neile, CEO of INKK said INKK would be working closely with key retailers and its distributor partner, CJ Patel, to deliver both innovation and a better shopping experience. What an experience! The Council faced great dificulty in accessing its customer care service. When the Council contacted CJ Patel and Company- the distributors of INKK Mobile in Fiji, the Council was told that they don’t handle consumer complaints. The Council was given a fax number for INKK (3312307) which is a Vodafone customer care number. These two companies have lost the trust of the consumers.

So what type of competition is this since the two companies have no real sense of rivalry. Island business has correctly pointed out that “Vodafone has excelled in taking a step ahead by bringing in its own competitor before the state deregulates the industry and INKK is a well-worked marketing strategy by Vodafone to dilute the market before "real" competitors come in”.  INKK and Vodafone have fooled the gullible consumers of Fiji. It seems INKK is sharing more than just Vodafone’s infrastructure. The latest "technical glitch" by Vodafone where $79 was mistakenly credited to pre-pay customers which also affected customers of INKK but INKK ignored the incident.

The Council is disappointed that the State agencies did not do their job to protect the consumers from an unforeseeable difficulties caused by foreign companies. The government agencies have a role to play in monitoring and evaluating investor performance to protect consumers.  The Council is aware that INKK is operating without a licence from the Ministry of Communication although they are engaged in selling handsets. The Council also established from the SCC that they are operating without a business licence which explains why there is no physical address. To the Council, consumer protection is vital and it cannot be compromised at any cost. The Council is calling on the State to investigate INKK and Vodafone for fooling the public by creating a false competition. INKK is in breach of the laws of this land and it is a risk to the consumers since pre pay service is a lucrative business in Fiji.  

From the above it can be concluded that INKK is more interested in profits and not consumers who contribute towards their profit. INKK has made millions of dollars and has not disclosed the investment level. Why? The Council hopes that the Government and the tax payers are benefiting from this foreign investment company and not just INKK and Vodafone at the expense of the consumers.

In the meantime the consumers have to wait for the “real” competitors in the market.