Tuesday, 10 December 2019 14:46

ACCC takes action against Superfone Featured

By
ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has instituted Federal Court proceedings against telecommunications provider Superfone for alleged false or misleading representations, and for alleged breaches of laws designed to protect consumers from issues arising from unsolicited telemarketing sales.

Superfone resells mobile, landline and internet services.

The ACCC claims that, between June 2017 and December 2018, telemarketers acting on behalf of Superfone cold-called consumers offering them discounted plans on their existing network if they signed up to a new contract via Superfone.

"In these proceedings we allege Superfone breached the Australian Consumer Law by making consumers think its offers and services were endorsed by or affiliated with their existing telco provider when this was not the case," ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.

"We also allege Superfone breached the Australian Consumer Law's unsolicited consumer agreement provisions, which were put in place to protect consumers from these sorts of high-pressure telemarketing calls, and from signing up to contracts they may not understand."

Furthermore, "We allege that Superfone's telemarketers repeatedly told consumers they could not terminate the contract without penalty, and failed to inform consumers about their cooling-off rights, when these rights are enshrined in the Australian Consumer Law," Rickard added.

The ACCC is seeking a consumer redress order, penalties, declarations, an order for corrective notices and costs.

The action follows complaints made to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).

The TIO received 1,729 complaints about misleading conduct involving NBN-delivered phone and internet services between January and December 2018.

The resulting investigation found certain providers – including Superfone – were using misleading telemarketing practices to commit consumers and small businesses to phone and internet contracts they didn't want, didn't need, or couldn't afford.

Ombudsman Judi Jones said, "Identifying and resolving systemic issues is an essential part of our work. When we can't resolve the issues with providers, we refer non-compliant telcos to the regulators for further action.

"I have said before consumers need to know they can make a measured and informed decision about which telco provider is right for them. If the consumer is feeling pressured by a telemarketer, it is fine to hang up. If they find themselves signed up to a contract they don't want or need, and can't fix the issue with the provider, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman can help."

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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