RealTime IT News

ACCC Orders ISP to Stop Misleading Campaign

Australian consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), has ordered ISP GoConnect to end the promotion of its free service after the advertisements were deemed misleading.

The Melbourne-based ISP has received more than 300,000 registrations from consumers expecting to take advantage of the free Internet service advertised by the company through an online and offline branding campaign featuring green aliens.

To date, the ACCC said less than five percent of the customers who registered have actually been connected in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. GoConnect customers who registered in January or February this year may be offered connections by the end of June, while others who registered later and reside outside capital cities face delays of several months.

ACCC chairman Professor Allan Fels said GoConnect should have been more upfront about its capacity to connect members "Consumers viewing GoConnect's advertisements and Web site would have been entitled to think that once they had registered with GoConnect, their Internet service would be activated immediately. This is not the case," he said.

Fels said the Internet, in forming an integral part of the new economy, must be monitored by organizations such as the ACCC to ensure consumer confidence in protections such as the Trade Practices Act.

"Consumers must be able to make informed decision when choosing between ISPs and clearly the relative availability of competing services is an important consideration when deciding between providers. ISPs cannot mislead or deceive consumers concerning such issues," said Fels.

Fels believed the order would send a strong message to businesses which make statements about future matters. "They must ensure that they have a resonable basis for making those statements. If they don't, their statements can be deemed misleading under the Trade Practices Act," he said.