When the Fine Print Isn’t Fine At All

Make an appointment

In a recent High Court case, the Court was asked to determine whether fine print in an advertisement was enough to prevent an advertisement from being misleading to consumers.

For more than a year TPG ran an advertising campaign that offered ADSL2+ for the cost of $29.99 a month.

Contact Tony

The offer was displayed quite prominently and clearly to the audience, less prominently the advertisement also stated that the offer was only available when it was bundled with a home phone service from TPG, at a cost of $30.00 per month.

Upon receiving complaints about the nature of the advertisement, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) initiated legal proceedings that alleged the advertisement was misleading and deceptive, and contrary to s 52 of the Trade Practices Act 1974 and s 18 of Competition and Consumer Act 2010. The ACCC objected to the disparity between the use of a large prominent headline offering unlimited ADSL2+ for $29.99 per month, and the less prominent qualifying terms. These terms added significant costs to the offer, requiring that a consumer also bundle a home telephone for an additional $30 per month, pay a single setup fee of $129.95, and also make a $20 deposit for a telephone.

The ACCC further alleged that TPG failed to properly specify a minimum price for the full offer, in breach of section 53C(1)(c) of the Trade Practices Act.

In the first instance, Federal Court ordered that TPG pay a $2 million fine. On appeal in the Full Federal Court in December 2012, that fine was reduced significantly to $50,000. Later in December 2013, the High Court allowed the appeal and reinstated the original fine of $2 million.

In its decision, the High Court upheld the initial judges findings, noting that the advertisements created a dominant message, namely that TPG offered ADSL2+ for $29.99 a month, that when viewed did not properly convey the actual offer.

The High Court also found that the initial thrust of the advertisement was misleading and that even if, as argued by TPG, a consumer was able to ascertain the actual price prior to signing up for the deal, it did not discount the fact that the advertisement was misleading. The High Court reiterated that a violation of s 52 did not require financial harm, it only requires that a company engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct.

 

If you have any queries regarding the above, please do not hesitate to contact us at Big Law Solicitors on (07) 3482 6999 or email us at mail@biglaw.com.au.

At Big Law we provide holistic legal solutions to legal matters.

Information & Helpful Tips

estate planning

How to Construct an Estate Plan in Queensland to Cater for Blended Families

| Wills and Estates | No Comments
Australia’s 2016 Census found that ‘blended’ families – where one or both partners with children have remarried or repartnered – accounted for 3.7% of the nation’s families.
estate planning

How to Get the Most Out of Your Estate Planning Appointment

| Podcasts, Wills and Estates | No Comments
In this podcast, Strathpine Estate Planning Lawyer, Mahendra Mohan discusses a very important document that your executor needs to know about.... listen to the podcast
I made my Enduring Power of Attorney prior to 1 June 1998

What if I made my Enduring Power of Attorney prior to 1 June 1998?

| Wills and Estates | No Comments
If you made your Enduring Power of Attorney prior to 1 June 1998 using a Form 16A (pursuant to the Property Law Act 1974-1990), then we strongly recommend that you…