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Kogan Mobile's policy 'illegal'

Ben Grubb (via SMH) | March 22, 2013
A prominent Australian telco lawyer has labelled as "plainly illegal" Kogan Mobile's acceptable-use policy, which the company has been using to disconnect heavy-use mobile customers.

Another part of the policy Mr Moon said breached Australian Consumer Law, as well as the telco industry's code, was Kogan claiming it could terminate any of its customers without warning.

The lawyer also labelled Kogan's Critical Information Summary as having "a long list of defects". The one-to-two page CIS is required as of March 1 under the Telecommunications Consumer Protections code to be displayed at point of sale and is meant to provide information on what is included in a plan.

Mr Moon said the Kogan CIS was severely lacking in the detail required as part of the code.

On Wednesday, Fairfax Media reported that Kogan did not have a CIS. A Kogan spokesman later contacted Fairfax to say it did have one, and referred Fairfax to the URL koganmobile.com.au/plans, which has the phrase "critical information summary" on it.

But the phrase is not displayed at kogan.com/au/mobile, which is the first URL that appears in a Google search for Kogan Mobile.

Mr Moon said that where the CIS was displayed, it failed to list the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman's contact details, as required by the code. It also did not prominently state as a single figure the total buy price of each plan, and did not list the minimum or maximum monthly charge payable under each product's offer.

Further, Mr Moon said it failed to disclose the acceptable-use policy's existence, as well as Kogan's clause that those who ran a business could not use the company's service.

Summarising, the lawyer said Kogan's CIS was "so wide of the mark" from adhering to the telco code that it was "more likely to breach the Australian Consumer Law's anti-misleading conduct requirements".

Australia's communications regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, would not comment on Kogan directly, but said it had identified and written to 38 telcos who did not appear to be complying with CIS requirements.

Compliance with the requirements from the telco industry as a whole had been "less satisfactory than compliance with the earlier code rules", said ACMA consumer interests manager Alan Chalmers.

Mr Chalmers reminded telcos that they needed "to be very careful with the way they use terms such as 'unlimited' when they have acceptable-use policies where there are limits to usage".

If a telco was non-compliant with the code, ACMA could issue a formal warning, which directs it to comply with the code, he said. ACMA could also issue infringement notices or start court action.

 

 

 

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