Premium Rip off
It’s no great surprise to see Opera Interactive Technology in hot water over the £40m GMTV phone-in fraud. Last month, we put Opera top of our list of shame of premium-rate number firms hauled over the coals by the industry regulators ICSTIS. Its sister firm Opera Telecom had racked up £211,000 fines in 21 separate cases over two years. Opera, like other “service providers”, blamed the “content providers” who used its lines to peddle porn, ringtones and the like. Chairman Gary Corbett told us he “condemned the inappropriate use of premium rate services”. He added that he takes “immediate and proactive action” when he finds his resellers breaking industry guidelines. So what happens when it’s his own company accused of dodgy dealing? Corbett was allegedly copied in on an email in 2003 by his sales director Mark Nuttall instructing staff not to let GMTV know they were choosing winners before the competition closed.
What was Corbett’s “immediate and proactive action”? Er, he did nothing, apparently.
Source: Mirror UK
It has been almost two months since Adrian Loveridge brought to the attention of Barbados the murky operation of Opera Telecom. This British company has been running its game of chance on our lone TV station, Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), and also on the front pages of the Nation newspaper. We have tried to identify if they were any winners of the competition since the launch but despite the best efforts of Adrian Loveridge et al, we have been unsuccessful. Adrian Loveridge even used his initiative to write to the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) and to CBC to highlight the track record of the company. Despite all efforts Opera Telecom continues to peddle its game of chance without question from our authorities in Barbados. Remember the letter which Adrian received from the FTC which communicated that they were helpless to intervene?
The double standard which is being practiced by OUR FTC and consumer watchdog is reprehensible; no wonder Neal & Massy and Ansa Macal, and the list continues feel they can enter Barbados and ride rough-shod over our rules and regulations. We assume that we have rules and regulations don’t we? The FTC was touted as the entity which would save and protect the consumers of Barbados from the marauding practices of ‘big-business’ yet we have Opera doing as it damn-well pleases.
Could it be that our Minister of Consumer Affairs Lynette Eastmond is so busy on the political campaign and therefore has little time to lend leadership to the FTC which has now fairly earned the reputation as a toothless organization? Yes indeed; we like others may not understand the price gap mechanism very well but we understand enough to know that they allowed C&W to outwit them in the battle for an equitable rate which consumers of Barbados must pay for telecommunication services. C&W has laughed all the way to the bank since then.
Maybe the answer is that the beautiful lady from the East is busy planning her wedding? Ok Lynette, you deserve some slack, who are we to spoil this once in a lifetime event. The problems will be waiting when your union is done. All the best wishes from the BU family!
Four Weeks Later It’s Business As Usual At The Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation TV 8~ Feeling Lucky Anyone?
The Fair Trading Commission Responds To Adrian Loveridge About Opera Telecom~Consumer Protection Act Cap 326D
I wrote an expose for Keltruth Corp. commenting on Adrian Loveridge’s investigation, which was published on BU. I was surprised by the lack of interest, especially as I confirmed that this is an international operation targeting Barbadians!
Bajans are getting ripped off, and it seems that neither they, the media nor the government gives a hoot!
Here is the Keltruth Corp. story:
could it be possible that some friends of our government are in on the scam? would it surprise us? why else is this still running?
She is evidently out to lunch, on this matter and many others that she is supposely responsible for.
We all remember her rants and Duguids rants before on these same sites, totally empty and devoid of substance.
On the subject of Minister Eastmond we would welcome her clarification on the statement she made regarding her prediction that prices would fall with the removal of the CESS tax which contradicted what Mascoll said. It turned out that Mascoll is correct.
This is a credibility issue Minister. Has the gag been removed yet?
David resent you that email,
How in heavens name would prices reduce with the removal of CESS or even the DUTY they may be a slight reduction in the cost of Beef and Lamb but the reduction WILL NOT equate to a 40 % savings at the cash register.
This is the avenue by which the importers will improve their markups and those in authority will have no clue as to what is going on.
Re two post above.
Owing you and your lot are really sick bunch!!
We have a really big problem in the UK (and Europe) and there is a clear danger that you are heading that way.
We have a thousand “Opera Telecoms” that are involved in every mass marketed telecom scam con and fraud you can imagine. They generate millions in tax for the UK Government and are effectively protected from criminal investigation. The CMTV/Opera fraud is just the tip of a very large corrupt iceberg.
You should ask serious questions of your “regulators”. For example are they financed by industry or Government. In whose interest do they act?
Adrian L perhaps you can escalate this matter to the CEO of the FTC and copy the leader of the Opposition, Minister Eastmond and the Commissioner of Police.
That Chameleon of a Minister of Government……Sinette ( Sinful ) Eastmond…..a.k.a Under Owen’s rule !
Has received a well earned award from the Weekend Nation Editorial on of 2007 – 11 – 10 on page 10 .
Sinette ( sinful ) Eastmond had a lot to say about Honesty & Integrity under this particular article some months ago….!
After being exposed for her LIES she vacated this BLOG SITE….at least not using her NAME !
A conniving LIAR she is !
That should be : 2007 – 11 – 16 on page 10 .
This article from the UK may be of interest:
Fraud probe into ITV phone-in scandal
Amar Singh, Evening Standard
16 November 2007
ITV faces a full-scale criminal probe into a rip-off quiz show scandal. The Serious Fraud Office is set to investigate allegations against a late-night show that urged viewers to phone premium-rate lines.
The investigation into Big Game TV will be triggered by the release of an Ofcom report that is expected to make a number of damning conclusions into criminal practices at the programme – and will hold ITV accountable.
Sources say the investigation into the quiz show broadcast on ITV2 from 2005 to 2006 has uncovered a series of systematic procedures used to rip off the public and that producers are potentially facing jail terms.
The report has allegedly found that millions of pounds were stolen from the public as part of a ‘policy’ of ripping off viewers – going further than previous probes which used terms such as ‘editorial failings’ and ‘technical issues’.
ITV, which is already facing an estimated fine of £18m after an independent-inquiry found ‘serious editorial-issues’ with Gameshow Marathon, Saturday Night Takeaway and Soapstar Superstar, is expected to face an additional penalty from Ofcom who have deemed the broadcaster to be ultimately responsible for the latest scandal.
The SFO, which is also reviewing evidence into the £34m competition scandal at GMTV, has been briefed by Ofcom and is poised to launch an investigation next week.
The release of the report was originally planned for last month, but due to the sensitivity of the findings, Ofcom’s lawyers have been given extra time to pore over it and prepare for all possible repercussions.
Among the material currently under review by the SFO are allegations by Big Game TV whistleblower Robert Winsor, who worked as a call operator for the programme, and went to the police last year. He claims answers were changed and phones were left unanswered to obtain the maximum money out of callers.
Callers were charged 75p per minute whether they got through or not. Mr Winsor said he was regularly told to take a coffee break and leave calls unanswered. The programme, whose hosts included children’s TV veteran Timmy Mallett, featured several open-ended questions producers could change to prolong the competition and take more calls.
On 19 May last year, Fraud Squad officers raided the offices of the channel. Charges of fraud were dropped late last December. The police said there had been no evidence of any act of criminality and the matter was left with Ofcom.
A source said: ‘This looks like being Ofcom’s most damning report yet – they have found that practices designed to rip off viewers were systematic and ultimately are going to hold ITV to account for this.’
BU it looks like you were right. Minister getting married :-).
Vows, I wish him well, may the Lord be with him as he will need all the help he can get, I sympathise with you my friend.
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