Friday, June 24, 2011

WTF? Ducking and Diving from Oxygen8

Is there no end to the web of deception and deceit practised by Morvec, Opera Telecoms, Go Go Mobile and Oxygen8? Morvec are the guys with a domain and email address in the UK, and a box number in Hong Kong. Go Go Mobile have an 0800 number in South Africa but refuse to divulge their address. Trevor Louw, the "MD" of Opera Interactive is also the "Internal Account and Customer Services Manager" of Oxygen8 Communications with telephone number 011-218-5600. Between the three of them is an unhappy mix-up that has resulted in R70 being deducted from my phone account at MTN without my permission or prior knowledge.
On Wednesday Paul Barrat (Morvec) tried to get me to agree to a "full and final settlement" in exchange for a R100 refund. Today I complained to both Morvec and Trevor Louw that the promised refund had not been provided. They gave some feeble excuse about the refund only being sent on Monday. Clearly they are not taking this matter seriously, since it was promised on Thursday. When I pointed out all the ducking and diving going on, I got a heated and indignant reply from Trevor Louw:
With all due respect – we do not go around looking to pinch an odd R28 here and there – the matter of the fact is there are many south Africans out there who are not affected by this simply because they did not engage in any services. The mere fact that we know what model of handset you use proves that there was interaction between your handsets [sic] and the wap sites that Morvec run that is no co-incidence. We have no time changing dates and times – dates and times are recorded by machines that handle the interaction between your handset and the sites that are being visited. I would really like to think that you are a man of reasonable intellect, you have gone to many lengths to get this sorted – WASPA is the ultimate organization that can see us getting fined a lot of money if compliancy was at stake here, and in this light we take this very seriously especially as opera telecom. In the interim we have afforded you a refund; Morvec has a deadline that they were given by WASPA to respond to your complaint I believe they still are within that time period. In due course you will get your response and WASPA can make an informed decision looking at the evidence that is provided to them.
Of course this rant is only partially true, so I have taken the trouble to point out some of the discrepancies:
Had your company had taken my initial complaint seriously and given me the refund I demanded when I called on Friday 10 June, I would not have complained to WASPA. But your company refused the refund, and fobbed me off with a telephone number that doesn’t work. So much for customer service.
Instead, your company continued to bill me, in spite of my email to be added to your Do Not Contact list, and an Unsubscribe request from WASPA. All of these were “processed” by yourselves *before* the deductions of 18, 19 and 21 June.
Your technical information has changed several times:
From Ant Brooks:

According to our system, Morvec removed you from their systems on 2011-06-16 and also indicated that they have blocked your number from any further billing. They also provided us with proof of your subscription, with the following log entry
MSISDN: 27789389XX7 [not my number]
HANDSET: Samsung SGH-J700
DATE: 2011/05/23 00:01
Do these logs seem to have any validity to you? If not then we'll escalate this matter, since that indicates that you may have been subscribed without your consent.

From Morvec to your customer services:

Please see below opt in information and answers below




23/05/2011 00:01


Nokia 5130


From Morvec to me:
the below date and time must have got corrupted before they were sent, the actual date and time are as follows
21/05/2011 15:01:06

From you to Doris at MTN:

See response from the SP – I have asked for some screen shots as well, is there any way that you could collate this data with what you may have on your side to see if all makes sense?



Handset Details

Ip Address


21/05/2011 at 22:01:01

Nokia 5130


18/06/2011 at 18:43:35

Nokia 5130


19/06/2011 at 14:09:24

Nokia 5130


19/06/2011 at 18:27:38

Nokia 5130


21/06/2011 at 21:20:42

Nokia 5130


This user has entered into 4 campaigns in the last 3 days by clicking on WAP Banners or Text Adverts. We currently use 31801 and have also recently tested on 42977 for a new agency with seperate advertising campaigns so that we have one agency per code which is easier for me to keep track of results from each agency.

So please don’t tell me that you aren’t changing your minds. And where are all the confirmation SMS messages you are required to send? And where all my replies? There aren’t any.

I can confirm that On 18 and 19 June I displayed ads for “The Mob Club” on Cricinfo, but those URLs are, not, and I received an email from The Mob Club assuring me their ad campaign had nothing to do with the short codes mentioned above. Their short codes are 31927 and 31848. The full URL I recorded on my phone is:

This is all clearly documented in my blog post

In the interim you have refunded only the first two deductions, and tried to get me to send a “full and final settlement” for the remaining deduction. Presumably that is to avoid another R100,000 fine like you got for WASPA complaint #6868.

In the meantime I have had a meeting with MTN to try and prevent companies like yours from stealing money from my phone. They are being most helpful.

One other point I only noticed while writing this blog post: The last date of 21 June is clearly wrong, because the MTN call centre was able to tell me about the deduction before my lunchtime meeting with the MTN executives, a full 8 hours before I allegedly subscribed.
The initial “subscription” date has changed 4 times
23/05/2011 00:01 on a Samsung phone
23/05/2011 00:01 on a Nokia phone
21/05/2011 15:01:06 on a Nokia phone
21/05/2011 at 22:01:01 on a Nokia Phone
Update 3pm: Amazing how a "refund" payment that could only happen "on Monday" is suddenly sped up when I pointed out they were lying and not treating the matter seriously. I guess they hope this will make me shut up and go away. After all, it has only been two weeks since they ignored my first complaint.
Monday 27th, 4pm: I left a message for Andre Kruger (CEO, Oxygen8 South Africa) at 011-218-5600 to call me. Funny, he hasn't called. The call could have saved him a lot of trouble.
Update Thursday 30th June: Steven Hunt, Director of EMEA, Morvec Limited, writing from his WorkPC at (Bournemouth, UK) sent a long rambling response to my WASPA complaint. I'll have to pick my way through it and respond to WASPA. It contains many inaccuracies and misrepresentations, but I expected nothing less.


Anonymous said...

Hi, towards the end of Nov 2012 I noticed that I am being scammed by these very same people. Their modus operandi in my case is similar to what happened in your instance: from subscribing me illicitly through the offer of a feeble refund.

They then advised they might get their lawyers to silence me and that inspired me to research them some more.

In the UK they changed their name on previous occasion to escape a scandal. In Australia Telstra went to court to try and suspend their access to bill its subscribers.

In SA they have infiltrated WASPA and actually serves on certain executive committees.

These people are serial criminals and from what I can gleam, it seems they have an elaborate organizational structure that makes it close to impossible to cut off this snake's head. I also suspect this structure could help them evade paying taxes through a number BVI, IoM etc entities.

I am going to research this some more. Try to get more people and civic groups involved and then attempt to launch a class action law suite. I am also going to attempt getting SAPS and Interpol to investigate this affair with a view to criminally prosecuting the people behind this.

How can I contact you?

les roberts said...

I had charges added to my contract for months, something called celebrity video and me2u and some others. Mtn assured us they had put a stop to it and told us to get hold of Oxygen 8 who are apparently responsible. (so why then does Mtn do the billing?) It's rubbish.
My husband wrote to Oxygen 8 and this is his reply... (they have since replied and said will get a refund) let's see...
Les Roberts, Cape Town.

Your response below is unconscionable nonsense.

The very fact that you have a prepared written response to complaints such as ours indicates how frequently you are required to defend your disgraceful scam, which amounts in law to nothing more than theft by wilful deception.

Your form letter response proves nothing, other than that you are practised thieves. If you believe that any court would possibly uphold your sms-based "subscription" as indicating that you have given a consumer the legally-required informed consent, especially as the mechanism of consent is merely to fail to opt out, you are wildly mistaken. That laughable process would not pass muster in any court, and fails to conform to statutory commercial standards in several different ways. It's nothing more than deliberate deception, and you know it. Let me test that in court with you, if you prefer to avoid a refund of a few hundred Rand. You know well that you'll lose.

I reiterate my earlier demand for a full refund by 1st June, or alternatively we will take both legal and regulatory action against you, and pursue both courses with every possible means. There are grounds for a criminal complaint, due to the clear evidence of wilful deception, so I'll start there with SAPS. Concurrently, a civil action under consumer protection law. As for your reputation, it is already appalling … but I can certainly make it a lot worse (though not perhaps as bad as you deserve).

William Koopman said...

I am currently engaged in exactly the same process. I was billed for two months over a three month period. I agree completely with your sentiments. I feel the Cellphone companies are colluding with these WAP providers and we need to investigate a class action against both the cellphone companies and the WAP providers.

Unknown said...

I wrote to oxygen8 recently after calling them regarding their R7/day subscriptions that are supposedly a member verification service for The subscription signups are not going back to complete the verification process and that is daylight robbery. I'm glad I was quickly able to unsubscribe but I still believe oxygen 8 owes the me an explanation. The same thing is happening with 35050 It is unscrupulous and a vehicle for scams that are defrauding unsuspecting consumers.

Phillip van Niekerk said...
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Phillip van Niekerk said...