CSNAC Petitions Council, Seeks Probe of VFS’s SMS Charges 

Mr. Babatunde Irukera Director-General Consumer Protection Council
Mr. Babatunde Irukera
Consumer Protection Council

The Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) has petitioned the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and tasked in to urgently investigate charges for short message service (SMS) by VFS Global Services,a visa application company carrying on business in Abuja and Lagos.

In the letter signed by Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, Chairman of CSNAC and sent to CPC’s Director-General, Babatunde Irukera, the network demanded an urgent investigation of the VFS Global Services and operation company because it is fraudulent act.

CSNAC noted that in spite of the exorbitant charge, the said service has been ineffective, fraudulent, unconscionable and exploitative adding that the said service is designed in such a way that same is not optional, thus stifling competition and imposing the excessively high rate on the applicants. CSNAC pointed out that this is in utter breach of consumers’ right to choose and have access to variety of quality products and services at competitive prices.

The Network noted that the average amount chargeable by all communication companies for SMS is the rate of N4 (Four Naira) adding that the said rate is way cheaper when utilizing bulk SMS services which come at an average rate of about N1.50k (One Naira, Fifty Kobo) per SMS.

CSNAC also faulted the SMS service, saying that, “disturbingly, the said VFS Global Services and operation company in an overwhelming majority of established cases negligently and or fraudulently fail to send the relevant SMS to update applicants of the status of their application as promised despite the un-refundable payment made to that effect.”

The Network pointed out that the failure of VFS Global Services’ SMS is a flagrant breach of consumers’ right to satisfaction of basic needs adding that it owes a duty to ensure that its services meet the standard of quality promised such that there is value for money in the transaction.

The group said the breaches by the company ought not to be condoned in Nigeria where the values of the Consumer Protection Council are entrenched in our laws.

It is on the basis of the various infractions by VFS Global Services and Operation that CSNAC demanded its investigation and requested that appropriate sanctions be meted out to the company if it is found wanting.