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Monday 21st November 2011

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Vodafone New Zealand was fined $81,900 for breaching the Fair Trading Act by making misleading mobile phone offers, the second of six cases being taken against the phone company by the Commerce Commission.

Vodafone was found guilty in the Auckland District Court in relation to an offer of $1 a day for mobile phone internet data it made in July to November 2008.

The promotion was capped at 10 megabytes though it said customers using less would only be charged for what they used. What Vodafone didn’t say was how it calculated the charge or that the full fee applied for using as little as 204.8 kilobytes of the 10 MB allowance.

Vodafone’s behaviour “was at the higher level of carelessness and inadvertence given that they were one of the market leaders in providing mobile phone internet services at the time, Judge Anne Kiernan said, according to the commission’s statement today.

At the time, accessing the internet via mobile phone was a relatively new service and providers needed to make sure their offers didn’t mislead consumers, “who often have no way of easily verifying the claims being made.”

Vodafone has the largest share of New Zealand’s mobile market and competes with Telecom and 2 Degrees.

The local unit of Vodafone Group Plc has already pleaded guilty to misleading promotions for its Vodafone Live service, paying a fine of more than $400,000, and faces four more charges from the 2006 to 2009 period, which it plans to defend.


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