Telco provider amaysim has paid penalties totalling $126,000 for alleged false or misleading representations about its mobile phone plans in an advertisement posted to Twitter.
The provider was issued with an infringement noticed by the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) for an advertisement posted to Twitter around 1 January 2020 that it claimed breached Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
The advertisement, the ACCC alleges, included the statement “…your mother loves the Unlimited Mobile Data offer from amaysim” and the hashtag #UnlimitedMobileData, which the ACCC claimed it represented the amaysim plans provided unlimited mobile data to consumers.
However, the ACCC alleged amaysim’s advertised plans provided an unlimited data allowance for the first three renewals and would revert to capped amounts afterwards.
Surpassing those caps would result in further chargers to consumers, and as a result was likely to mislead consumers, the ACCC claimed.
Additionally, telco provider Lycamobile has also paid a penalty totalling $12,600 following a similar infringement notice for alleged false or misleading representations about its mobile plans, with it posting to Facebook on or around 29 November 2019 an advertisement, referring to “Unlimited Plan S” and “Unlimited Plan M”.
The ACCC claims this advertisement represented plans with unlimited data allowances, but these plans had capped data allowances, and would also incur charges if the cap was exceeded.
The difference between the two providers is whether a corporation receiving an infringement notice in relation to an alleged contravention of the ACL for conduct prior to July 2020 was listed or not. As amaysim was listed, its penalty is $126,000, while Lycamobile was not listed and as a result its penalty is 10 times less, at $12,600.
The payment of the penalties however is not an admission of a contravention of the Competition and Consumer Act.
“Consumers who saw the word ‘unlimited’ in the advertisements without any explanation of the limits of the plans were likely to expect they would not be charged additional fees for mobile data, no matter how much data they used,” said ACCC chair Rod Sims.
“The telco industry has been previously put on notice that their advertisements must be clear and transparent, and must not contain claims like ‘unlimited’ without a clear and prominent disclosure of any qualification or exception which applies to the offer. We will continue to monitor mobile plan advertisements and won’t hesitate to enforce the law.
“The amount of data included in a mobile phone plan is an important factor for many consumers in choosing a plan, and it is important that consumers can readily understand what they are signing up to.”
This isn't the first time Lycamobile has paid $12,600 in penalties, with it failing to comply with a direction from the industry regulator regarding the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code in 2018.