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1250 posts

Uber Geek

# 198512 12-Jul-2016 10:07
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Got a call out of the blue yesterday from unlimited internet ( saying that they were disconnecting our home broadband.


Enquiring as to why - apparently we've used too much 'unlimited data'. (teenager in the house)


They tell me that it's in their terms and conditions and that it is a breach of their fair use policy.


While it doesn't worry me moving to another provider - the kicker is that they have given us 7 days to move.


A couple of things get me about this:


No warnings - just a call to say 'we're disconnecting you' - verbal too nothing written no email


7 Days is crazy - it may very well be possible to arrange a connection move in that time-frame but it puts pressure on everyone.


There is no way to check your data usage in their online portal - I've got no idea how much data we've used.


When you call the company 'unlimited internet' you've kinda put it out there .....




So just a warning that if you use a lot of data this may not be the provider for you.

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1567 posts

Uber Geek


  # 1590749 13-Jul-2016 00:19
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I work in risk and compliance. Obviously legal risk is a big part of a deal, on which we (many of us are lawyers but our work is wider than just the law) work with the legal team and/or external providers. With that out of the way, yes, I am reasonably familiar with the Fair Trading Act and the relevant section here is the one that proscribes against misleading and deceptive conduct in trade. The Commerce Commission's published guideline on use of fine prints/disclaimers and the existence of and application of 'fair use' policies in broadband service advertisements are also relevant. I'll excerpt the relevant bits from the guideline.




On fine prints: With all advertising, the first or overall impression made on the potential customer is very important. People reading, seeing or hearing an advertisement can react to and make decisions based on that first or overall impression. If the overall impression given by an advertisement is misleading, it will breach the Fair Trading Act no matter what information is provided in fine print. If there are important limiting or qualifying conditions on a service, these should be shown in a bold, clear and compelling way in the advertisement which cannot be easily overlooked.




 On Fair Use Policies: Broadband suppliers sometimes apply a “Fair Use” policy. Under these policies customers may have their service restricted if they use it excessively. Fair Use policies may mean that customers cannot use the service in the way that they want to. It is important that both the applicability and the terms of the policy are prominently displayed. The application of these policies should not be hidden in small print or in the general terms and conditions of service.




Now Commerce Commission guidelines are not definitive principles of law. These are only the Commission's statement on how they intend to interpret the law and/or enforce it -- if a business doesn't like it, things will have to go to court and the courts have the final say. Without turning this into a long, boring treatise, in my view this company's advertising falls well short of best practice and is quite arguably in breach of the Fair Trading Act.


For example, on their plans page ( all the plans are advertised with a headline of "Unlimited [connection type]" and for the VDSL and UFB plans, there's the usual hagiographic marketing gibberish about how it's really great for streaming lots of stuff and/or for "any application" etc. And then the words "unlimited data" are bullet-pointed. They don't even do what most other providers do and put something like an asterix or footnote next to unlimited and say "Fair Use Policy applies". The usual approach of doing this doesn't necessarily mean you are complying with the FTA either. I would argue that advertising unlimited data and then saying "Fair Use Policy applies" in tiny print below or by way of a spoken line at the end of a TV ad isn't good enough both legally and in terms of managing reputational risk -- but my point here is that this company's approach is well short of even the quite questionable norms.


They, of course, have their fair use policy but it is not a separate policy by itself but rather clause 8 buried within their general T & Cs. Clause 8 is not specially bolded or marked out in any way and the T & C is not written in such a way that clearly and deliberately draws attention to clause 8. From a risk management standpoint, colour me completely unimpressed. This especially when:






Great spotting, we are in the middle of a website/company revamp, the current website is our original content since launch some time ago, this will be updated and or replaced when the new one gets released soon.




See above post, house keeping not perfect, im first to admit that.




Im reviewing/renewing the company at present, getting it ready for it's next phase.




This is about as lame an excuse as one can get for at best very poor commercial practice and, at worst, a blatant breach of the law. Now I am not a member of the NZ judiciary so I can't say you definitely have breached the law but you are skating on really thin ice IMO. Any commercial enterprise should have a risk management framework that continuously ensures that all marketing and advertising material both complies with the minimum standards required by the law and, preferably, upholds high standards of corporate behaviour. The fact that you are trying to explain this away by saying that this is old web content and that your housekeeping isn't perfect is not very reassuring at all.


I personally would not use this company's services or recommend anyone else to use it, just based on what I am seeing in this thread and on their web pages.





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