Melbourne-based Internet service provider (ISP) Dodo has been slapped on the wrist by the Federal Court after allegations were filed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) claiming it had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct. The court also declared that the ISP had acted unconscionably in dealing with customer complaints.
The ACCC accused Dodo of offering customers unlimited Internet access for the cost of a local call through dial-in numbers on its Web site or through sales representatives when, in reality, some of these consumers incurred long distance charges. The watchdog also claimed that Dodo had illegally waived consumer rights and remedies existing under the Trade Practices Act 1974 and other legislation.
The ISP was further criticised by the ACCC for failing to check the accuracy of dial-in numbers provided, failing to fairly and properly investigate complaints, refusing to enter into negotiations with complainants and seeking to rely on unlawful exclusion clauses.
The court ordered Dodo to compensate any consumers who had incurred long distance charges, inform its customers of the findings and introduce a trade practices compliance program. The ISP and two directors, Mark Baranov and Larry Kestleman, had injunctions filed to restrain them from making the same or similar representations to consumers for three years unless there was a reasonable basis for doing so.
“This matter sends an important message to Internet service providers, who must ensure that all terms and conditions of Internet use are sufficiently brought to the attention of potential customers prior to entering into a contract,” acting ACCC chairman, Sitesh Bhojani, said.