On 15 March 2019 the Federal Court ordered penalties of AUS 250,000 against an Australian internet provider (Internet Provider) for making false or misleading representations and failing to display a single price in advertising for its services. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) instituted proceedings in December 2018, after engaging twice previously with the company about its misleading advertising.
The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) prohibits businesses from making false or misleading representations to its customers in the course of doing business. The Internet Provider admitted that between June and November 2018 it made false or misleading claims in breach of the ACL through its direct mail and online banner advertisements while advertising its products, promising speeds of up to 100Mbps for AUS 59.95 per month with no setup fee. The true cost of the 100Mbps plan was actually AUS 89.95 per month, and if the customer did not sign up to a 12 month plan a set up fee did apply. Over 81,000 direct mail advertisements were sent to customers, and 793 of these customers acquired the advertised services during the relevant period.
Internet Provider admitted to the breaches and will send each affected customer a corrective notice and implement a consumer law compliance program. The Court has also ordered that Internet Provider offer to refund setup fees and allow affected customers to exit or switch plans without charge.
Further details can be found in the ACCC media release here.