ACCC gets go ahead to appeal TPG ruling

Consumer watchdog granted application for special leave

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has been given the green light to appeal against the Federal Court’s finding that certain advertisements for ISP TPG’s Unlimited ADSL2+ broadband service were not misleading.

The High Court of Australia on Monday granted the ACCC’s application for special leave to appeal against part of the Federal Court’s ruling.

The appeal includes challenging a Federal Court ruling that TPG is liable for only a $50,000 fine relating to the ISP’s TV advertisements and its “failure to prominently display in its initial advertisements the single price for the advertised service.”

On November 2011, trial judge Justice Murphy ruled that TPG’s $29.95 per month Unlimited ADSL2+ advertisements – which ran between September 2010 and November 2011 – were misleading because the service could only be bought with a “bundled” home telephone line for an extra $30.

The judge also ruled that initial ads for the ADSL2+ plan were misleading because they conveyed that buyers wouldn’t need to pay a set-up fee when they were required to, costing an extra $79.95 or $129.95.

TPG was ordered to pay a $2 million penalty and the ISP appealed. The Federal Court upheld the original ruling relating to the initial advertisements but ruled that other TPG ads were not misleading because bundling requirement and setup charges were adequately disclosed.

In April, the Federal Court reduced TPG’s initial $2 million fine to $50,000 and ordered the ACCC to pay 75 per cent of the ISP’s costs for the appeal, injunction and trial.