The industry leaders in telecommunications: Telstra, Vodafone Hutchison and Optus have committed to a multi-party arrangement to improve and review their advertising practices so consumers are better informed.
According to the ACCC, the three telcos have given a court enforceable undertaking to the watchdog, outlining their intentions to improve their advertising practices.
“The broader telecommunications industry has for some time walked a fine line between compliant and non compliant advertising,” said ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel.
“The ACCC welcomes the co-operation of the three major carriers in clearly articulating what is fair to consumers and what is not, and their commitment to the basic principle of truth in advertising.”
The ACCC identified the twelve most prevalent types of misleading conduct in the telecommunications industry, and under the new agreement the three providers have outlined that they would not partake in any of these practices.
Some of the misleading practices likely to mislead consumers covered under the agreement include: use of the term ‘free’, ‘unlimited’, ‘no exceptions’, ‘no exclusions’ and ‘no catches’ when this is not the case; headline price offers in the form of ‘price per minute’ when there are fees and charges which are not clearly disclosed; and headline claims relating to price, data allowances, total time allowances, speeds and network coverage where the claims cannot generally be sustained for all consumers.
“Having the three major carriers on board is a critical step, and the management of the major telecommunications companies should be applauded for taking a stand. In honouring this undertaking they will achieve significant sectoral reform in a market which is now relevant to the vast majority of Australians,” said Samuel.
“The ACCC recognises there is more to do. The ACCC will now contact the next tier of operators who will be encouraged to adhere to the principles set out in the undertaking. When taken together with the three major carriers, this would then account for almost 90 per cent of the market for telecommunications goods and services in Australia.”