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Vodafone Australia Had Mislead Customers, Admits The Company, After ACCC Probe

Vodafone Australia Had Mislead Customers, Admits The Company, After ACCC Probe
Following an investigation over alleged acts of misleading customers by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Vodafone Australia – the latest telecom company operating in the country had admitted to the charges of misleading customers over direct billing services the company would will now refund the customers who have been affected by the act of the company.
Vodafone admitted it "likely breached the ASIC Act from at least 2015" by charging money from consumers for content that had now been knowingly purchased by customers or customers had not agreed to buy such content, the ACCC said. A court enforceable undertaking has been signed by the telecom service providing company, the Australian consumer regulatory body said.
Third parties had given commissions to Vodafone against the purchase by consumers of ringtones, games, and digital content through the method of the direct billing service that had been enabled by default for consumer accounts.
"Purchases could occur with as little as one or two clicks," the ACCC said. "The purchases would then be charged on the customers' next Vodafone bill," it added.
The deceptive prices had affected thousands of customers, said the ACCC chair Rod Sims. "Other companies should note, money made by misleading consumers will need to be repaid," he said.
Vodafone started receiving numerous customer complaints on this issue in 2014 and 2015 and started to phase out the services by the middle of 2015, said the ACCC. However it added that purchases by customers were still available without any identity verification until March 2018.
This latest admission by Vodafone means that the ACCC has been able to prove their charges of deceptive conduct against all of the three major companies in the Australian telecom services industry.
A fine of AU$10 million for misleading customers was imposed on Optus at the start of the year following the admission by the company that it had mislead consumers and violated the ASIC Act with respect to billing for services provided by third parties. In the admission the company also conceded that it was aware of issue as early as April 2014 and had known that its customers were being charged for direct carrier billing services which had been unknowingly or mistakenly signed up for by the customers. According to reports, since 2012, the AU$65.8 million out of commissions for the third party content was amassed by the Singaporean-owned telecommunication service provider.
The refund offer of the company had been only taken up by only one quarter of eligible customers, the ACCC said in early July. Optus has also been charged of misleading its customers over the need to move onto the National Broadband Network and the ACCC began legal action against the company last month. According to the complaint filed by the Australian consumer watchdog, an email was sent by Optus on 24 May 2018 to some customers telling them their broadband services would be "disconnected very soon" and urged the customers to "make the switch, before it's too late".
Another Australian telecom service providing giant Telstra issued total refunds to about 72,000 customers amounting to AU$9.3 million after it conceded that it had misled customers on its direct billing service, the ACCC had disclosed in September.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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