There are a few things that unite South Africans better than anything else. Some might say rugby is at the top of that list. Others might insist it’s the shared solidarity of struggling through load shedding schedules. Yet I propose that there are two things that bring us a shared identity more than anything else: Hating Telkom, and complaining about Rain.
Let’s focus in on that second one for the time being because Telkom is an evergreen hatred while Rain is still fairly new. The first ISP in the country to specialise in only wireless connections has been a lightning rod of disgruntled users who are less than stoked on the service it provides. That’s now been taken up a level as the Advertising Regulatory Board is forcing the company to change misleading adverts.
The complaint was initially filed by Suvasin Moodley, a Rain user who was no doubt plagued by the rampant disconnects and poor speeds everyone using a Rain SIM has experienced at some point in time. Quoting from the complaint file submitted to the ARB, Moodley submitted that the advertisement was misleading for the following reasons:
- Unlimited data 24/7: The line continuously drops and is not available 24/7.
- Your choice of network speeds – there is no choice. The line variability is vast.
- Your choice of streaming quality – there is no choice. The line is very poor.
The adverts in question (pictured below) detail the above features as being possible with Rain and, from personal experience, I can attest that they’re only accurate about half the time.
Now without going into all the secondary issues and complaints, the ARB handed out a decision based on two core pillars of this case: The first is that rain advertises 5G connections that average a 200Mbps download speed and “unlimited data 24/7”.
In reference to the 200mbp/s line speed, the ARB stated “… the Advertiser must hold documentary evidence to support these claims that are capable of objective substantiation. In its response to the
complaint, while the Advertiser provided clarity on its product offerings, it did not provide substantiation to support the speed or quality claims. More specifically, there is nothing to show that the Advertiser actually offers the claimed performance.” That’s a big OOF for Rain, right there.
Now, the “unlimited data 24/7” claim was a little weirder as the ARB states that the wording used in the advert was interpretable in two ways. “It could mean that the data is unlimited all the time and therefore uncapped, in other words, that there is no time period when the data is limited and when it is charged per gig. Alternatively, it could mean that unlimited data is always available to the consumer without interruption. While the Advertiser has provided motivation for the first interpretation, it has not done so for the second.” The ARB thus ruled to be misleading.
What this all means is that the advertisements around Rain’s 5G service need to be removed from the public eye and amended before they’re shown again. Considering the amount of effort and the budget that goes into full-scale marketing campaigns, this could be a pretty major loss for Rain. We’ll have to wait and see how long the turnover time for a new marketing campaign will be, hopefully, one that’s a little more accurate.