Movistar’s tariff increases opposed by consumer agency

18 Oct 2013

Venezuela’s government consumer protection agency, the Institute for the Defence of People’s Access to Goods and Services (INDEPABIS) aims to overrule mobile service tariff increases by Telefonica’s local subsidiary Movistar Venezuela, the agency’s president declared in statements published on the INDEPABIS website. Eduardo Saman stated that the agency had recorded evidence of Movistar’s ‘undue charges and tariffs’, and pointed to complaints alleging that Movistar had executed tariff increases, ‘illegal’ charges and service suspensions ‘suddenly’ or in a ‘misleading’ manner. He added that the Spanish company was a ‘repeat offender’ and that Movistar’s lawyers had used ‘delaying tactics’ in grievance processes. Specifically, as a result of ‘unjustified increases in phone plans’, the consumer office, which operates under the Ministry of Commerce, says it has ‘suspended’ the price hikes in question. The INDEPABIS head continued that previous decisions on Movistar’s offers may now be reconsidered in a backdated action: ‘We will initiate an investigation with the commission [regulator Comision Nacional de Telecomunicaciones] to stop rate increases … we have approved Movistar a number of promotions, we will review those offers once again because it is inexplicable that on one hand you say that you give away seconds, minutes or messages per charge and [on] the other will increase the rate.’

However, news agency Reuters notes that operators are struggling to offset the effects of inflation in Venezuela, where the annual inflation rate rose to 49.4% in September, the highest level since the government changed the formula used to calculate the figure five years ago.