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Digicel slaps low-spending customers with $15 charge

Published:Friday | June 30, 2017 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott

Telecommunications giant Digicel is charging its customers $15 under its new scheme, which seems to penalise those who spend less than $50 per month on their prepaid account.

An amendment to the terms and agreement between Digicel and customers gave effect to the new charges since June 22. These customers should, therefore, be seeing the $15 added to their accounts.

Responding to a series of questions posed by The Gleaner, Digicel said that the new maintenance fee was implemented to cover the cost of providing service to those customers.

According to Digicel, customers, after paying the maintenance fee, will receive three 'free' on-net minutes valued at $16.47, exclusive of taxes, as well as having their prepaid services extended for 14 days. The taxes referred to are general consumption tax and the special consumption tax, which will be applied to the free three minutes, which will amount to another $2.

Digicel noted that the fee was not applicable to the majority of its customers.

Digicel, after being called out by the Office of Utilities Regulations (OUR), has apologised to customers for not initially informing them of the new fees.

The OUR has demanded an explanation from Digicel for the new fees, which the company had until yesterday to respond to.


June fees to be reimbursed


In the meantime, the telecoms company said that customers who were charged for the month of June under the scheme will be reimbursed.

"We are now taking steps to make sure we keep our customers well informed. In future, customers will be notified via text message in advance in the event that consumption appears to be falling below J$50 for any given month, advising them that they can avoid the fee by making a call, sending an SMS or browsing," Digicel said.

In December of last year, it was announced that Digicel had hired consultants to help in reducing the company's massive debt burden in the aftermath of a damning report by a US analyst that the company had an unsustainably high level of debt.

Digicel responded, saying it "fundamentally disagrees with the conclusions", and has a positive outlook.

But since then, Digicel has shelved a number of promotion and perks it had afforded customers and there was a recent hike in Digicel's cable and Internet fees under the Digicel Play service.