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.

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