Malta Consumers’ Association against Vodafone-Melita merger
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The Malta Consumers’ Association has said that the proposed Vodafone and Melita merger as one telcom provider, “is bad news for local consumers as this will continue to limit the number of operators and thus competition.
“Local consumers not only do not have a real choice but to add insult to injury have got to pay very high prices when compared with the prices other consumers have to pay in other EU countries. Reducing the number of suppliers will make the situation much worse,” the Association said in its statement.
It added that it has written to the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority, MCCAA, the regulator empowered to approve such a merger, to register that the Consumers’ Association is against this merger as of now.
“The Association said that it had registered as objectors to the said proposal and expected the Competition Office to keep it informed on the process, “including on its market analysis which we assume in the light of the media declarations would have already kick-started.”
“We believe that the Competition Division in its evaluation should give special importance to the impact such a merger would have on consumer choice and publish a consumer impact assessment study especially the impact such a merger would have on ordinary consumers especially the prices that these consumers would have to pay for telephony, internet and tv services,” the statement said.
It added that such a study would have to compare the prices that consumers would pay under the present and the suggested scenario.
The Association stated that in the event that the MCCAA approves the merger, it expect the MCCAA to give those consumers under contract with Vodafone to opt out free from their contract.
The reason for this recommendation, the Association said, is that when choosing to subscribe to a service offered by this company consumers chose the services offered by Vodafone over those provided by either Go or Melita.
It pointed out that “from available information it seems that “Vodafone” would simply be a brand name as Melita will have a 51% majority shareholding in the new setup. Therefore in reality consumers who chose Vodafone will end up having a contract with Melita, something which they chose not to in the first place,”
The Consumers’ Association concluded by saying that it then expect the MCCAA to “assume its responsibilities by making bi-annually market study to ensure that none of the remaining operators are exploiting the resultant dominant position to the detriment of the consumer. Needless to say, we expect that such studies should be made public.”