Personal attention of the
Hon. Lynette Eastmond
Minister of Consumer Affairs
Fair Trading Commission
In early July I became increasing concerned over a series of TV ‘ads’ that were being aired at almost saturation frequency on CBC Channel 8.
The ‘ads’ invited viewers to respond by text or telephone at a cost of BDS$2.30 per call with a selection of possible answers to various questions. A classic example was: ‘What is the capital of Barbados?’
While the conditions of the competition were shown in very small print and literally flashed on the screen, it was absolutely clear that the operators were a company called OPERA TELECOM.
I emailed the company in the United Kingdom and an Ms Joanne Nugent responded as GM (General Manager) of Opera Interactive Caribbean showing a local (Barbados) telephone number (230 6742) and a UK Fax Number (44) 0870 046 9668, which is in fact the FAX number of the Birmingham headquarters of Opera Telecom and the website address of Opera Telecom (www.oitg.com).
Ms Nugent’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
The current CEO of Opera Telecom is Garry Corbett who’s email address is email@example.com
I was unable to find any Barbados registered company under the name of Opera Interactive Caribbean but through the CAIPO office found a company listed an Opera Interactive (Barbados) Ltd under the number 27987.
As you may be aware Opera Telecom has recently been fined a record GBP 250,000 for rigging a premium rate competition phone line on behalf of GMTV.
Media reports estimate ‘callers were cheated out of GBP 20 million over four years’.
‘Opera Telecom was ordered to pay a full refund to complainants and banned for managing competitions for a year’.
You can get some idea of media response to the events simply by typing Opera Telecom on GOOGLE News.
In the last but one email response Ms Nugent has categorically stated that Opera Interactive (Barbados) Ltd has absolutely no connection to Opera Telecom.
Frankly, I find this difficult to believe as the TV ‘ads’ shown on Barbados clearly display Opera Telecom and you will see by the four separate emails I am forwarding that Ms Nugent has on at least one occasion copied our emails to the CEO of Opera Telecom, Garry Corbett.
Over the last few days yet another competition Barbados Lucky Numbers has started to appear both on CBC Channel 8 and half page print ‘ads’ in the press.
Again, respondents are requested to call or text at a cost of BDS$2.30, yet no company is listed as the operator of the competition.
As with the previous Opera Telecom competition, no list of winners has been published and the public has absolutely no idea what funds and profits were generated from this promotion.
I would be grateful for your comments.
29 September 2007
Sent by email and printed letter and copied to Senator Lynette Eastmond, Minister of Consumer Affairs and the Office of Public Counsel.