The Scream Discussion Forum is reporting on their website that Oxygen8 Communications is a new company established to buy-out Opera Telecom. The BU family may recall that Opera Telecom (UK based) was a company which was allowed to operate freely a game of chance in Barbados despite having been fined for regulatory violations in the United Kingdom. BU family member Adrian Loveridge was proactive and persistent in his effort to expose the Opera Telecom issue to Barbadians. We should highlight that CBC TV and the Nation Newspaper participated in the Opera Telecom scam by not publishing results of draws in a timely manner. We appreciate Adrian Loveridge’s public spiritedness.
A search of BU using the key words Opera Telecom should throw-up several blogs about the Opera Telecom affair. Our sources tell us that the management buy-out of Opera Telecom by Oxygen 8 is probably “a name change exercise and a rearrangement of the deckchairs but you would have to make your own minds up about that.” The reason for the name change/buy-out is suspected to be as a result of the many CUSTOMER complaints during “2008/9 which forced the ‘Regulators’ to clamp down in the international markets where they operated e.g. UK, Ireland, Australia, US, Turkey etc.”
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.
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.