Opera Telecom Ltd

I have been following the Opera Telecom phone rigging scandal in the UK and wonder if there is not concern for us here in Barbados. Joanne Nugent, a representative of Opera Interactive (Barbados) Limited has today stated they are separate companies, but when initially asked in July, she replied with a UK fax number and Opera Telecoms UK website address.

According to the CAIPO office in Barbados they are registered under # 27987 dated 28 November 2006. However, the competition ‘ads’ aired on CBC Channel 8, clearly show the name OPERA TELECOM after the conditions section and NOT Opera Interactive (Barbados) Ltd.

If you have seen the ‘ads’ you maybe would agree they are insulting but the point is those that respond are charged BDS$2.30 per call or text and where is the accountability.

Clearly, there was little in the UK.


Best Regards

Adrian Loveridge

23 thoughts on “Opera Telecom Ltd

  1. Strange

    I thought that I read on BFP that Adrian loveridge was silenced for good?
    Could this be a different Adrian Loveridge?

  2. Opera Telecom has been fined GBP250,000 by the UK telephone regulators , the maximum currently allowable.

    ‘Opera’s fraudulent system generated an estimated GBP 20 million in revenues for the broadcaster (GMTV), almost all from premium rate callers who stood no chance of winning’.

    ‘ICSTIS, which supervises UK premium rate activity, described the case as the worst ever it had come across. Opera Telcom had misled at least 18 million callers over a four-year period. The company was also banned for running phone-in competitions for 12 months – and was ordered to make a full refund to viewers who have complained’.

    Despite stating that the company that produces the locally shown competition ‘ads’ on CBC Channel 8 is a seperate organisation, Opera Interactive (Barbados) Ltd, on the conditions of the competition the name OPERA TELECOMS is still shown.

    The company, together with management of Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation, the Office of Fair Trading and the Department of Consumer Affairs must make a clear statement on the current status of the locally run competition.

  3. Here is a follow up by Adrian L to the Minister responsible for such matters:

    Personal attention of the Hon. Lynette Eastmond
    Minister of Consumer Affairs
    Fair Trading Commission
    Opera Telecom

    In early July I became increasing concerned over a series of TV ‘ads’ that were being aired at almost saturation frequency on CBC Channel 8. The ‘ads’ invited viewers to respond by text or telephone at a cost of BDS$2.30 per call with a selection of possible answers to various questions. A classic example was: ‘What is the capital of Barbados?’

    While the conditions of the competition were shown in very small print and literally flashed on the screen, it was absolutely clear that the operators were a company called OPERA TELECOM.

    I emailed the company in the United Kingdom and an Ms Joanne Nugent responded as GM (General Manager) of Opera Interactive Caribbean showing a local (Barbados) telephone number (230 6742) and a UK Fax Number (44) 0870 046 9668, which is in fact the FAX number of the Birmingham headquarters of Opera Telecom and the website address of Opera Telecom (www.oitg.com). Ms Nugent’s email address is joanne.nugent@oitg.com. The current CEO of Opera Telecom is Garry Corbett who’s email address is garry.corbett@oitg.com

    I was unable to find any Barbados registered company under the name of Opera Interactive Caribbean but through the CAIPO office found a company listed an Opera Interactive (Barbados) Ltd under the number

    As you may be aware Opera Telecom has recently been fined a record GBP 250,000 for rigging a premium rate competition phone line on behalf of GMTV.
    Media reports estimate ‘callers were cheated out of GBP 20 million over four years’.

    ‘Opera Telecom was ordered to pay a full refund to complainants and banned for managing competitions for a year’.

    You can get some idea of media response to the events simply by typing Opera Telecom on GOOGLE News.

    In the last but one email response Ms Nugent has categorically stated that Opera Interactive (Barbados) Ltd has absolutely no connection to Opera Telecom.
    Frankly, I find this difficult to believe as the TV ‘ads’ shown on Barbados clearly display Opera Telecom and you will see by the four separate emails I am forwarding that Ms Nugent has on at least one occasion copied our emails to the CEO of Opera Telecom, Garry Corbett.

    Over the last few days yet another competition Barbados Lucky Numbers has started to appear both on CBC Channel 8 and half page print ‘ads’ in the press.
    Again, respondents are requested to call or text at a cost of BDS$2.30, yet no company is listed as the operator of the competition.

    As with the previous Opera Telecom competition, no list of winners has been published and the public has absolutely no idea what funds and profits were generated from this promotion.

    I would be grateful for your comments.

    Yours Faithfully

    Adrian Loveridge
    29 September 2007

    Sent by email and printed letter and copied to Senator Lynette Eastmond, Minister of Consumer Affairs and the Office of Public Counsel.

  4. David…

    Maybe also check out the half page ‘ad’ appearing in the Sunday Sun today under Barbados Lucky Numbers.

    Try the Toll Free Number ‘For billing and content enquiries’ and
    ‘If the lucky prize number you have been allocated matches the winning, and in the same number order, then simply call 1 800 534 2276 to make your claim’.

    I have so far called this number personally over 20 times and spent ten minutes with a Cable and Wireless Telephone Operator.

    All either of us can get ‘WE ARE SORRY THIS NUMBER IS NOT IN SERVICE”.

    It is frankly, quite unbelievable that these competitions appear to be totally unregulated by Government and that both the newspaper publishers and Cable and Wireless do not check the validity of them.

  5. Adrian L~should we be surprise if we look behind this transaction and find that it is a sweet heart deal? OK, lets start digging people!
    The VOICES of the PEOPLE must be heard.

  6. Adrian L continues to be the eyes and ears required.

    Why does CBC TV continue to show

    Barbados Lucky Numbers ‘ads’?

    The ‘ads’ clearly state ‘if the lucky number you have been allocated matches the winning number, and in the same number order, then simply call 1 800 534 2276 to make your claim’.

    But if you call that number, as I have, a least a hundred times or try through the operator, all you get is

    ‘We are sorry the number you have reached in not in service’.

    Therefore, while you can speculate on the 1 900 number at BDS$2.30 per call or text, there is no way of establishing a possible winner.

    CBC’s Acting General Manager is aware of the situation, so is Donald Austin as Cable and Wireless, the only company mentioned in the ‘ads’.

    Surely, it would be prudent to stop the airing of the ‘ads’ until a thorough investigation is undertaken and the company organising the competition is revealed?

    Adrian Loveridge

  7. David…

    ‘ads’ continued to be aired last night.
    Yesterday on Down to Brass Tacks, a Mrs P highlighted the problem and David Ellis said he was aware of it and suggested contacting the Office of Public Counsel.

    I have already sent details (last week) to Senator Estmond (both through her Ministry and personally to her own email address) and the Office of Fair Trading plus Donald Austin at cable and Wireless.
    The ONLY person that has responded so far is Claude Graham at CBC who stated he was going to investigate the situation.

    The 1 900 number is accepting calls at $2.3 a time, but callers cannot verify prizes as the 1 800 number is still NOT working.

    While the situation is being investigated the very least CBC could do is pull the airing of the ‘ads’.

    The previous ‘ads’ that included “What is the capital of Barbados’ were produced by OPERA TELECOM.

    The representative of the locally based Opera Interactive (Barbados) Ltd, Joanne Nugent, emailed me and stated ‘Opera Interactive (Barbados) Ltd is a private company with no relationship to any overseas office’.

    The CAIPO records Opera Interactive (Barbados) Ltd registration # 27987 and lists the directors as:

    Gary CORBETT
    Lynda BASKETT
    John PAYNE

    Mr Gary CORBETT is the CEO/Chairman of OPERA TELECOM, the company recently receiving a record fine (over BDS$1 million) in the UK for phone rigging.

    Full details can be obtained on the http://www.icstis.org.uk website.

  8. Adrain L~we suspect that the pulling of the ad might have something to do with the loss of advertising dollar. Here is another example of advertising dollars influencing the decision making in our media houses.

  9. David…

    Where do ‘we’ draw the line?

    Opera Telecom systematically defrauded the British public of somewhere between GBP 20 milion and GBP 35 millon over two year period according to media reports.
    No-one can reasonably argue the Directors/Managers of the company did not know what was going on.
    The fine imposed by the regulator (ICSTIS) was a record and the maximum currently payable.

    Should advertising revenue take precedence over breaking the law?

  10. Adrian L~You ask a rhetorical question of course and that is the reality of Barbados today. Barbados has become so intimidated by the establishment that to describe them as cowards would be saying it mildly.

  11. Day 7 and the Barbados Lucky Numbers ‘ads’ are still be aired on CBC and in a half page print ‘ad’ in the Nation today.

    Still the 1 800 number shown to claim your prize IS NOT IN SERVICE.

    No response from the Minister or Fair Trading Commission yet.

    Its an anything goes society that we have become.

  12. Pingback: The Fair Trading Commission Responds To Adrian Loveridge About Opera Telecom~Consumer Protection Act Cap 326D «

  13. Hi,

    Some background information on Opera Telecom from the UK that may be of interest.

    From 18 Feb 05 to 24 Sep 07 Opera has been investigated by Icstis ( UK regulator) on 23 occasions.

    They have been fined on numerous occasions for their part in various “telecom scams”. From the lessons learned in the UK I would suggest you are right to question any pay per call competition this company is involved in.

    best regards UK

  14. Amazing that this is a company which has been fined on multiple occasions and the media and relevant authorities would refuse to warn unsuspecting Barbadians.

  15. Truly amazing David…

    The CEO/Chairman of the UK based Opera Telcom is Gary Corbett.

    One of the three listed directors of
    Opera Interactive (Barbados) Ltd is guess who ? Gary Corbett

    The Barbados Lucky Number ‘ads’ still continue to be shown on CBC TV8 and half pages in the Nation.
    Note: the’ winning number’ hasn’t changed in two weeks and no ‘winners’ have been annouced publicly.

    But the Fair Trading Commission refuse to investigate and I never did get a reply from Senator Eastmond. Minister of Consumer Affairs.

    We are not talking about minor infringements here. Opera Telcom systematically defrauded thousands of people over a near four year period.

    But its OK for it to happen on Barbados, no-one cares a damn.

  16. GMTV are likely to be investigated by the Serious Fraud Squad in the UK according to BBC News today.
    This will no doubt lead to the thorough investigation of Opera Telecom ‘call rigging’ practices in all territories.

  17. This is good news UK..

    The Barbados Lucky Number ‘ads’ are still beeing run here on local TV, operated by Opera Interactive (Barbados) Ltd.
    Still no details of ANY winners.
    When the GMTV/Opera Telecom scandal was revealed by the BBC Panorama programme earlier in the year, this was OPERA TELECOM’s response –

    ‘Opera Telcom says there is not a shred of truth in the claims’.

    End Quote.

    Nearly four years of systematically defrauding tens of thousands of people and ‘not a shread of truth’.

    Our own Fair Trading Commission have refused to investigate the local Opera company even though Gary Corbett is listed as a director.

  18. I read this blog and so help me God sometimes what I read coming from who I know are intelligent and truthful people shock me that Barbados has “Democracy” status. It truly is ubelieveable.

    Here is an operation in Barbados whose Parent or Associate Company in Great Britain has been accused of running a questionable operation there. And according to printed reports on this Blog from credible spokespersons, there have been NO details emerging of any winners being made public so far in Barbados . And the Barbadian Fair Trade Commission fail to act or at least looking into the situation. That is one example.

    But a more glaring example if in fact I am understanding what is being printed correctly is, that an Audit is on the Floor of the House Assembly involving the horrific, controversial and messy affairs of GEMS that involve millions of taxpayers dollars, but no one but Government has access to it.

    It boggles the mind that these things can go on in a “Democracy” but it is even more disgraceful that the “Opposition” other respectable politicians and people in Barbados take all of this sitting down and see nothing wrong with it! Do these people not have Legislative and other rights that they can exercise to make the Government share information of this type?

    I personally would ask David Thompson or on my own investigate what rights we might have under the UN charter for “Independently” bringing some of these more blatant abuses of “Democracy” and the publics right to know before them.

    I thought that even in spite of Barbados being an Independent Nation it still operated under the fundimental principles of “Democracy” much like what is enjoyed in the UK. But it appears that is not the case.

    When things can be run in this manner by an elected Government obviously aided and abetted by power brokers in the society. One has to wonder out loud if maybe the allegations of corruption are not only valid but has tenacles extending far deeper than anyone first suspected And which extends deep into the cremne de la creme of the Barbados Society.

  19. Wishing in Vain…

    Please bear with me a little longer.
    Lots of pressures on at the moment and trying to prioritise.


    Couldn’t agree more.
    Can you imagine the FTC refusing to investigate this matter?
    And still no reply from the Minister of Consumer Affairs.

    Last time I tried her email address the response was ‘quota was exceeded’

    Tells you something eh!

    I believe ALL companies that have even a minimal taxpayer interest should be made to publish their audited accounts within SIX months of the end of their financial year.

    No ifs or buts!

    A legal requirement or an immediate independent forensic financial investigation for non-compliance.

  20. Let me say this and I want no one misinterpreting what I am saying here because I do not under any circumstances support violence of any kind in getting what you feel is correct or what you are entitled to.

    Having said that let me pose these questions to the open minded and those who understand what I am saying.

    When we look around the world we are seeing more and more sectarian violence and violence being initiated because of tyranny against the people by Governments in many lands. We are living in a very volatile world where communication is shrinking the world and news and events are conveyed to most as it happens.

    Even the ignorant and uneducated seeing what is happening have enough sense to know when they are being screwed and not being given a fair shake. They will take it for only so long.

    They are people who are so fanatical as in Afghanistan and Iraq that will blow themselves up to make their point.

    The USA has also seen riots in Detroit, LA, and other parts of their country especially in the deep south where tyranny, brutality, inhumane treatment etc of minorities triggered it but it served a purpose.

    I am saying with respect that every person in their country needs to see that they are on equal with all others and especially in the case of Barbados the new arrivals. This does not mean they want mansions, or to play golf, or to drive Mercedes or to be the friends of the elite or want free lunches.

    What I am saying is they want to see that where they qualify and have the education to do a well paying job that they are given that opportunity. They want to see that these jobs are also available for all who want them or that their Government and the movers and shakers in Barbados are doing something about fixing the problem. They want the OPPORTUNITY to live the dream like all others. That is what civilized societies and Governments are to be judged on.

    When Governments and Societies turn their backs on this fundemental principle of what Democracy is all about I say do so at your own peril.

    One only need read Bajanbats submission to see the racial intolerance simmering beneath his/her anger. He/she might be living in a big house but how dare other Bajans complain about not being able to own a home and 70 % of those that are living in the homes bajanbat tells us about are good enough for them even if they would like to move up but can’t afford it. And in many cases have no well paying job like Bajanbat to even consider buying a house. It is a mentality problem that needs to be addressed in Barbados before it is too late!

  21. What is known about Caribbean Phone IDOL?

    This is another competition operated by three seperately registered companies:

    Opera Interactive (Barbados) Ltd
    Opera Interactive (Trinidad) Ltd
    Opera Interactive (Jamaica) Ltd

    On the rules and and conditions page for Barbados it mentions a prize of $2,000 and a date of 21st February but does not state a year.

    Have there been any winners yet and who are they?

    In reponse to my concern over this company, the Fair Trading Commission hand delivered a letter today stating:

    re: Consumer Protection Act, CAP. 326d – Misleading and Deceptive Conduct – Opera Telecom

    The Fair Trading Commission ‘the Commission’ refers to your and responds to your email dated 17th october. 2007 attaching a copy of the terms and conditions of Caribbean Phone IDOL – Barbados.

    The Commission is in the process of reviewing the terms and conditions for fairness. As soon as this exercise is completed, we will revert to you.

    We thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.

    Yours faithfully

    Judy Maynard
    Officer-in-Charge, Consumer Protection Division

    Thank You FTC and let us hope that we see some winners names published for this and other competitions operated by these companies including Barbados Lucky Numbers in the very NEAR future.

  22. Pingback: Authorities In Barbados Allow Opera Telecom To Piss On Our Rules & Regulations ~ Where Is Minister Lynette Eastmond? «

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