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Tuesday, 14 January 2014 19:00(Opinion) – I am saddened at the way businesses treat ordinary folks in The Gambia. A new trend have come to stay, that being the incidence of false and misleading advertorials that are mostly aimed at siphoning the very meagre earnings of the populace.
Words like, the cheapest, the best, better than the rest and your very own has become the order of the day. Most disheartening is the fact that as the whole world was celebrating the dawn of a new year (2014), Gambians are once again bombarded with elaborate advertisements in major dailies announcing 99 Bututs/Minute for calls to any local network by Comium, one of the GSM Operators in the country.
The advertisement claims that henceforth, subscribers of Comium would enjoy a whooping discount on their local calls from a pre-Christmas rate of D3.30/Minute to 99 Bututs/Minute, thus precipitating another instance of false advertising. False advertising or deceptive advertising is the use of false or misleading statements in advertising.
As advertising has the potential to persuade people into commercial transactions that they might otherwise avoid, the advertiser’s (Comium) in order to prey on people’s gullibility to the word ‘cheapest’, failed to explain properly to the public that they still charge D3.30 for the first minute of every calls made from a Comium network and that their new offer only implies to calls exceeding one minute.
Like most false and misleading advertising, where service providers often tack on the fees and surcharges that are not disclosed to the customer in the advertised price. In most cases, the fees are hidden in fine print, though in a few cases they are so confused and obfuscated by ambiguous terminology such as “ Cheapest Tariff Ever” as in the Comium advertisement that they are essentially undisclosed.
In trying to verify the claims of the advertisers, I met Modou Baldeh, Essa Sowe and Aminata Dumbuya who all claimed they are victims of this misleading advertorial from Comium. “I was swayed into believing that my calls would be cheaper with the new Comium promotion, but unfortunately, I am yet to see the benefits of this 99 Bututs /Minute. Comium keeps charging me the same thing as before”, said a disillusioned Modou Baldeh.
“I bought a new Comium Sim, because of their promise of the cheapest tariff ever, but I don’t believe that is the case as they are more expensive than my previous GSM Operator. Their 99 Bututs/ Minute claim is a big Lie, I hope the authorities protect us from such deceitful adverts” a frustrated Aminata fumed.
“These people, and when I say these people I mean Comium, they are the biggest liars. How can you be telling or selling to people what you don’t have. They don’t charge 99 bututs. I have a Comium line and I am yet to be charged that for all the calls I have been making with it,” declared Essa.
Written by Victor Ofuonye
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