Tuesday, 16 July 2019 10:25

Vodafone to pay damages over direct carrier billing services

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Vodafone to pay damages over direct carrier billing services Pixabay

Telecommunications provider Vodafone Hutchison Australia has admitted it made false and misleading statements about its third-party direct carrier billing service and will pay damages to affected customers, the ACCC says.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said it had investigated the matter under powers delegated to it by the Australian and Securities Commission.

An ACCC statement said Vodafone had confessed it was likely to have breached the ASIC Act from at least 2015.

Vodafone had provided the ACCC with a court-enforceable undertaking about the billing service which sold ringtones, games and other content from third parties.

The service was enabled by default on Vodafone customers' accounts and content could be bought with a couple of clicks.

ACCC chair Rod Sims said: “Through this service, thousands of Vodafone customers ended up being charged for content that they did not want or need, and were completely unaware that they had purchased.

"Other companies should note, money made by misleading consumers will need to be repaid."

The statement said Vodafone had agreed to contact customers whom it judged to have been affected and offer them refunds.

While the telco began to phase out subscriptions to such billing services by mid-2015, one-off purchases took place until March 2018.

Vodafone is the third telecommunications service provider to be fined for these activities. Both Optus and Telstra were fined $10 million apiece, the former in February and the latter in April 2018, over similar offences.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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