ACCC Warns Austar Over Sneaky Contract Sales

One of the many forms of iffy commercial behaviour the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) frowns on is not making the conditions of a contract, and the potential overall cost, crystal-clear. That appears to have been the case with pay TV provider Austar, which has agreed to smarten up its act after some questionable practices were unearthed by the regulator.

The ACCC has accepted a court-enforcable undertaking from Austar after discovering that in many northern Australian indigenous communities Austar had quoted a basic contract price, added in limited trial access to extra channel packages such as sport, and failed to explain that unless the additional channels were explicitly cancelled by the customer, they would be charged for in subsequent months.

That meant the minimum contract cost would be much higher than the initial claim. Austar has now agreed that when it quotes a minimum cost, it will always assume that subscribers won't cancel those channels after the introductory period. As ever, we'd advise people not to sign up on the spot for any long-term contract; take time to consider your options, and make sure you clearly understand all the costs involved.

ACCC


Comments

    Gee Austar giving crappy service, there's a shock!! Now if we can just get them to provide a reliable box that records when it's told and doesn't crap itself more often than is convenient. Oh, and for gods sake get rid of that friggin automatic answering service, last time I used it I came close to throwing the phone through the TV!! #[

    Don't sign up from door-to-door salespeople. You can get a substantial discount signing up over the phone. Door-to-door sales are handled by a third-party (Foxtel's is 100% owned by Foxtel), and every sale the salesperson more than months contract commission. Ring up and negotiate 50% discount for the first 6 months. Rather than giving the sales person a tonne of money, keep it for yourself - but if you don't ask they won't give it to you.

    Isn't it misleading enough that channels offered for a trial period must be cancelled by the customer after the trial expires if they don't want to pay for them?

    Just increasing the quoted minimum contract price (which is always buried away in the fine print) doesn't make this opt-out sales model any less dodgy.

    The worst bit is that you're paying for it, and it still has friggen ads. Revenue raising to the max.

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