MyRepublic, 2Degrees, Spark and Vodafone have all copped letters from the Commerce Commission warning them it believes they have breached the Fair Trading Act.
The letters follow the Commission’s announcement earlier this year that retail telecommunications would be an organisation-wide priority for it in the 2017/18 year.
When it announced this focus the Commission noted that the telco sector continued to generate a high volume of consumer complaints, despite previous compliance and enforcement work by the Commission.
Nor are these four warnings likely to be the last. The Commission says it is investigating further potential issues in the sector, including incorrect billing, failures to identify the subscription nature of mobile add-ons, incorrect calculation of broadband usage, unfair contract terms and representations concerning the nature and availability of internet services.
In the case of the four telcos targeted in this round of warning letters the Commission has detailed their offending conduct as follows.
- promoting its 1Gbps service up to two months before it was actually available;
- representing that customers on its GAMER broadband service would not experience lag or latency when they could experience lag or latency caused by third party servers;
- incorrectly representing that consumers’ rights of cancellation under the uninvited direct sales provisions of the Fair Trading Act ceased to apply once MyRepublic had commenced the service.
2Degrees, for making misleading representations about the price of its unlimited broadband plan by not identifying or by inadequately disclosing the additional cost of a modem and its delivery.
Spark, for making representations in the marketing of its Skinny Mobile service that closure of Vodafone’s 2G network was imminent.
- representing that 12 month broadband plans came bundled with ‘free’ goods or services when, in order to receive the ‘free’ goods or services, the consumer was required to pay additional fees or to take additional services;
- on some occasions advertising a monthly headline price that did not include the additional fees to be paid in order to receive ‘free’ goods or services.