Promotions, almost always, get us excited. Their rich offers of prizes, most often for parting with a token, get our juices flowing. Announcements of the outcomes of promotions, unsurprisingly, are awaited like cup finals. Unlike cup finals, though, there are no favourites, as the process is random. Not winning is not treated as a tragedy. But winning, expectedly, is giddying, especially in bumper promotions like the DSTv 20th anniversary promotions, which had among its prizes trips to the United States of America to watch the last Grammy Awards ceremony.
The awards, widely followed by Nigerian music buffs, offered a once in a lifetime opportunity for any of the winners of the promised trip. One of them was Mr. Emmanuel Igoche. He emerged a winner at the anniversary draws witnessed by top-tier verification outfit, Alexander Forbes Consulting and the Consumer Protection Council. Igoche was thrilled at his emergence and on 11 October last year, he formally received the evidence of his prize in the shape of a model return ticket to the 2014 Grammy Awards ceremony. This was followed by the purchase of actual return ticket and the booking of hotel accommodation by the organisers, MultiChoice Nigeria, for Igoche.
MultiChoiceâ€™s efforts at kicking off the travel plans were, however, not matched by Igocheâ€™s. A major requirement was the obtaining of entry US visa among other relevant travel papers. Igoche had no valid US visa and this was unknown to MultiChoice until it presented Igoche with the ticket and the hotel reservation on 22 January 2014. With only four days to the event and having not submitted a visa request to the US Embassy in Nigeria, despite having sufficient time to do so, Igoche realised that his dream of watching the Grammys was evaporating. The development provoked disappointment and eventually anger, with Igoche accusing MultiChoice of wrongdoing, specifically arguing that it was the responsibility of the organisation to ensure that he obtained a US visa. MultiChoice explained that it could only provide a letter of introduction to support Igocheâ€™s visa application, but was in no position to offer a guarantee that it would be granted. The explanation did nothing to reduce the disappointment. Weeks before, when MultiChoice gleaned that Igoche like the other winners of the promo might face a difficulty getting the almighty US visa, the company offered Igoche and other winners alternatives to the Grammys trip. First was an offer to watch the NBA finals in the US at a latter date, providing him with enough time to seek the Visa. This was flatly rejected with a reply that he does not watch basketball. Next was a trip to Abu Dhabi later in the year to watch the Formula One race there. This was also rejected with a claim of feeling unsafe in the Middle East. Yet another offer was made. This offer was met with the same response as the previous two.
While Multichoice was still engaging with Igoche and other winners on how to ensure that the promised experience was enjoyed even if delayed, Igoche went public. In addition, he wrote a petition to the Managing Director of Multichoice and copied every official in the Federal government including the Minister of Communication. Igoche also went to an NGO, CSR In Action to help tarnish the image of Multichoice. All of this while all efforts were on to make good the failed Grammy Awards trip for which Multichoice really has no blame.
MultiChoice maintains that it kept its own end of the bargain with the winners of the promotion. A perusal of the copy of the terms and agreements guiding each promotion supports MultiChoiceâ€™s claim of having fulfilled its obligations. For instance, Clause 15 explicitly states that a winner â€œmust possess whatever documents and permissions that may be required in order to accept and use a prize, including as regards international travel, a valid passport and all necessary visa and travel documentation, which documents and permissions it your responsibility to obtain at your own cost, and which documents and permissions must remain valid in such minimum form and for such minimum period after the prize date, as may be required by the relevant authoritiesâ€.
Also, Clause 20 of the same rules states the rights/obligations of the organisation as well as those of promo participants. â€œWe and our third party suppliers, as the case may be, reserve the right to vary, postpone, suspend or cancel the competition and any prizes, or any aspect thereof, without notice at any time, for any reason, which we deem necessary. In the event of such variation, postponement, suspension or cancellation, you agree to waive any rights, interests, expectations that you may have in terms of this completion and acknowledge that you will have no recourse against us, our affiliates and third party suppliers,â€ states the clause.
Given what the terms and conditions stipulate, MultiChoice is not legally obliged to offer alternative trips. It, however, did for Igoche, who rejected them, and Major Baban Mallam, another major winner. Baban Mallam, however, accepted and confirmed in writing the offer for himself and his wife to visit Sun City, widely called Africaâ€™s Kingdom of Pleasure, in South Africa. It was an offer that was also made to Igoche, who subsequently gave MultiChoice and its representatives a wide berth, totally ignoring the fact that he had failed to read and fully understand the conditions guiding all promotions and what the obligations of winners are. have arisen no difficulty in its bid to fully redeem his prize.
MultiChoice Nigeria kept the CPC abreast of all promotions as well the terms and conditions guiding all promotions, which makes the Deputy Director of Public Relations for the councilâ€™s comments that â€˜the promotion is supposed to be a total package especially baffling.
The responsibilities of MultiChoice, clearly, do not extend further than the provision of a return ticket, accommodation for the winner in the United States of America and entrance into the venue of the show. That of the winner is to get ready for the trip. CSR In Action has insinuated that the lack of show tickets in the package sent to Igoche four days to the Grammys is evidence that Multichoice did not make adequate plans for the Igoches to attend the show. Wrong again. As Special guests, Mr and Mrs Igoche were going to be chaperoned to the event and Multichoice, a major player in the global entertainment industry had VIP passes waiting for them in Los Angeles.
Igoche and CSR In Actions attempt to portray Multichoice as unwilling to treat its promo winners well goes against all the facts of the issue. All efforts were made to ensure that the Igoches went to the Grammys and when they couldnâ€™t, all effort was also made to compensate them with other trips abroad. They refused where the other promo winners accepted.
While Multichoice can bring world class entertainment to homes across Africa, it does not issue US visas and it has never claimed to.