Amaysim and Lycamobile are being fined by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for supposedly advertising false ‘unlimited’ mobile data plans.
Unlimited data… with limitations
The Australian consumer watchdog has given both telcos infringement notices for allegedly posting false and misleading plan information on social media. Amaysim has been handed a $126,000 fine and Lycamobile an $12,600 fine.
According to the ACCC, the telcos advertised these unlimited plans despite them containing data restrictions.
Amaysim’s social post is from January 1, 2020 and contained the lines “Dad why is my name Unlimited Mobile Data” and “Because your mother loves the Unlimited Mobile Data offer from amaysim”. The hashtag #UnlimitedMobileData is also used in the post.
However, this data allowance was only offered for the first three plan renewals before adhering to a data cap with excess data charges attached.
While Amaysim has paid the fine, it seems to be standing by its plans and the use of the word ‘unlimited’.
“We are clearly very disappointed in the ACCC’s decision, particularly as the intention of the offer was to offer value for money and reward our existing loyal customers,” a Amaysim spokesperson said in an email to Gizmodo Australia.
“The penalty relates to two twitter posts which the ACCC claim may have been misleading in relation to the period of time that bonus data associated with one of our mobile plans, was available for.”
Amaysim made reference to the conditions around the plan being more overt on its website.
“The ACCC had no issue with the promotion of the offer on our website, where a consumer must have had to visit if they purchased, and which made the conditions explicit, prominent and clear,” the spokesperson said.
“Our Unlimited mobile plan offer, as referenced by the ACCC, was offering truly unlimited data and did not impose speed caps or thresholds in relation to the respective data allowance. The offer was initially valid for three renewals over the summer period, but was extended for many customers at no extra cost through to 30 September 2020 as a part of our COVID-19 customer response.”
According to Amaysim, it would have cost more to dispute the fine.
“Unfortunately, the cost of an appeal would have likely been greater than the quantum of the fine,” the Amaysim spokesperson said.
“In addition, an appeal would have consumed internal resources that are best spent on continuing to develop and offer our customers great value plans and delivering excellent customer service.”
Amaysim was also forced to pay a $900,000 fine back in 2019 for making false marketing claims about discounts on its energy plans.
Lycamobile’s post was from November 29, 2019 and contained and advertisement for ‘Unlimited Plan S’ and ‘Unlimited Plan M’. However, both of these plans had data caps and excess data fees attached.
“Consumers who saw the word ‘unlimited’ in the advertisements without any explanation of the limits of the plans were likely to expect they would not be charged additional fees for mobile data, no matter how much data they used,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in a media release.
“The amount of data included in a mobile phone plan is an important factor for many consumers in choosing a plan, and it is important that consumers can readily understand what they are signing up to,” Mr Sims said.
Plenty of telcos have done this before
This is certainly not the first time that telcos operating in Australia have been under the ACCC microscope for falsely advertising unlimited data plans.
Back in 2018 Telstra began offering a $69/month unlimited data plan that wasn’t actually unlimited. Optus and Vodafone also offered in similar plans, which resulted in the entire telco industry being put on notice.
Gizmodo Australia has reached out to Lycamobile for comment.