Optus accuses Vodafone of misleading advertising in Federal Court

Telco giant Optus is suing Vodafone in Federal Court, accusing its rival of using misleading advertising in the company’s “Infinite” plans which were launched last month.

The case is yet another example of authorities cracking down on telcos for misleading advertising. The most common complaint is that telcos claim packages offer “unlimited” download plans, but these actually carry hefty charges if download caps are exceeded.

The move comes just weeks after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission slammed Optus in the same court for misleading customers with regard to “unlimited” broadband plans. The telco was found to be using “inherently deceptive” tactics to sell its products.

Now, Optus says Vodafone has not disclosed certain qualifications to some plans it launched last month. These particular plans in the “Infinite” brand were said to be an alternative to fixed lines because they used unlimited mobile and fixed-line calls.

However, Optus is set to lodge a complaint against Vodafone, saying that advertising is misleading. The company points out that while calls to mobiles and landlines are not charged, along with access to five social networking sites, browsing on other websites actually costs consumers money.

“Optus has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court against VHA because it has concerns that some of the claims within its ‘Infinite’ advertising are misleading to consumers. Optus alleges the campaign does not adequately inform consumers of the various qualifications to the Infinite plans,” the company said in a statement this morning.

”We are seeking an interim injunction preventing Vodafone Hutchison Australia from running the campaign in its current form until such time as a final hearing can take place.”

However, Vodafone disagrees, saying the Infinite plans are clear, and they are in no way misleading. ”We disagree with Optus’s claims against Vodafone and our Infinite plans and will defend those plans with protecting customer value in mind,” it said.

Last month the Federal Court said Optus used misleading advertising when informing consumers of “unlimited” plans, when they actually did impose limits on customers. The court also slammed the telco for failing to disclose actual download limits, and ordered it to post corrective notices in stores.

Last year the ACCC also released a warning for telcos, saying that it would come down hard on any business using misleading advertising regarding downloads and network speeds.

“The ACCC is concerned about companies over-promising and under-delivering the speeds available on mobile and wireless internet, particularly in the context of network upgrades and increasing wireless internet subscriptions,” he said.

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