TelstraClear complains to Commerce Commission over Telecom promotion

Under fire for aggressive calling plan promotion, Telecom denies 'slamming' accusations

A furious TelstraClear is accusing Telecom of misleading and unlawful behaviour and has filed a complaint with the Commerce Commission over a new calling plan promotion.

TelstaClear’s head of consumer and SME sales Steve Jackson says Telecom wrote to “many thousands of TelstraClear toll call customers” stating that their calls have been monitored and that they will be switched over automatically to the Telecom “Anytime” plan unless they specifically opted out.

A PDF copy of the Telecom promotion letter was posted by TelstraClear on its website. The letter is signed by Victoria Crone, head of Telecom’s consumer marketing department, and says the telco has looked at the customer’s calling patterns over a four-month period. Based on the monitored calling patterns, Telecom says it believes the targeted customer will be better off with the new Anytime plan.

The letter also says that the targeted customers will be automatically switched over to the “Anytime” plan on 27 September, unless customers opt out online or by calling Telecom before the 12th of the month.

Commerce Commission spokeswoman Jackie Maitland confirmed that TelstraClear had filed a complaint on Thursday morning over the promotion. Asked if the commission had any powers to act in this particular case, Maitland said “we will assess the complaint under the Fair Trading Act before making a decision whether to investigate or not.” This, Maitland says, is the commission’s standard procedure for all complaints it receives.

Telecom meanwhile denies it has done anything wrong, and is taunting TelstraClear by saying it should “get over it”. Telecom general manager consumer, Kelly Moore, says “TelstraClear is obviously feeling the pain of our very successful Anytime calling plan” and adds “Any suggestion we have used other carriers’ calling pattern information is false.”

Moore says “there is absolutely no intent to bring another carrier’s calling customers back to us without the customer’s consent.”

The practice of deviously achieving a customer’s consent to change carriers is known as “slamming”. Earlier this year, major US carrier Sprint was found guilty of slamming in Florida and had to pay state authorities a $US2.4 million fine.

Apart from TelstraClear, managing director of local telco Callplus, Malcolm Dick, says he has seen Telecom’s promotional letter, but has not heard of any of his company’s customers are being targeted.

However, Dick adds “we are surprised they called their new products Anytime and Anytime Plus as they are the exact product names for our Slingshot toll plans, and have been for the last year.”

Dick says that Callplus’s legal team is looking into the issue of Telecom using its product names.

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