The High Court’s new views on misleading conduct — is your marketing putting you at risk?

By Sarah Barker

The High Court of Australia handed down a significant decision late last year in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC’s) prosecution of telecommunications services provider TPG. The case concerned TPG’s television, radio, print, billboard and internet advertisements for its bundled ADSL2+ broadband internet and fixed line telephone services. The advertisements focused on the broadband component of the package, with ‘unlimited ADSL2+’ for ‘AUD29.99 [£17] per month’. The other aspects of the offer — including a requirement that the broadband service be bundled with fixed line telephone rental (for an additional AUD30 per month), a minimum of six-month contract, a deposit and an AUD129.95 setup fee — were disclosed in much smaller print. The ACCC alleged that the advertisements were misleading or deceptive contrary to section 18 of the Australian Consumer Law, on the basis that they conveyed the overall impression that broadband internet could be acquired from TPG for AUD29.99 per month. The case centred on whether the advertisements’ disclosure of the fixed line bundling requirement, minimum term and additional fees was sufficient to neutralise the impression created by the headline alone…

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