Fairfax Digital backs down on “free” SMS claims

Fairfax Digital has agreed not to advertise as “free” a mobile search and alert service provided to users of its domain.com.au property site in response to concerns the claim may be misleading.

Fairfax Digital has agreed not to advertise as “free” a mobile search and alert service provided to users of its domain.com.au property site in response to concerns the claim may be misleading.

Using the service, users could view properties on domain.com.au from their mobile phones and receive SMS alerts when new properties became available.

Fairfax Digital websites carried ads for the service stating “domain goes mobile! Find your next home on your phone for free”.

But users still face charges from their mobile phone provider for mobile search and a 55c charge for each SMS alert, leading the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to express concerns the claims could be misleading consumers.

In response to the concerns, Fairfax Digital has agreed to a court-enforceable undertaking to not publish further ads touting free services where there may be third-party costs involved, and post a notice correcting any misunderstandings on the domain.com.au homepage.

“The use of the word ‘free’ in advertising and promotional material is a powerful marketing tool for attracting consumers,” ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel says.

“As such, consumers should be entitled to presume that when a service is advertised as ‘free’, they will not incur an unexpected fee or charge from the business itself or from a third party. This is a reminder to businesses that the ACCC will not hesitate to take action against traders who make this kind of misleading claim.”

 

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