ACCC Confirms Asterisks And Fine Print Aren’t An Excuse For Misleading Offers

ACCC Confirms Asterisks And Fine Print Aren’t An Excuse For Misleading Offers

Another useful reminder that retailers can’t use fine print to escape their obligations to consumers: the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) last week fined Foxtel a total of $46,200 for misleading advertising in its 2011 Christmas sale.

Foxtel promoted an offer including six-months of access at $55 a month, but only mentioned in a small-print clause that the actual contract was for 12 months and prices rose to $77 a month after the deal kicked in. As ACCC chairman Rod Sims explained”

The inclusion of an asterisk or a fine print disclaimer does not remove the potential for a headline to be misleading. Companies must ensure that they do not use misleading headlines about the price and other key terms and conditions of the services being offered. It is not enough for a company to try to correct a misleading headline using fine print text.

Something of the same logic underpinned the ACCC’s ongoing stoush with Apple over the 4G capabilities of the iPad. In that case, Apple agreed to offer refunds and to change its advertising materials, though a court decision over whether that advertising was misleading is pendng.


  • Nice to see them doing something but a fine of $46,200 ?

    50 subscribers @ $77/month for 12 months = $46200

    Tiny fine considering how many subscribers they may have gained from that false advertising. Many continuing to subscibe after the 12 months is up.

    Try 5000 subscriber fine ($4.62 million) and then Foxtel and many other companies may actually take their adverlying seriously.

    Foxtel would say right now “$46.2k? It was worth it”

    • They are really only gaining $22 per subscriber and only for 6 months.
      So it is really $46,200 / $11 / 12 months = 350 subscribers

      But yeah, its a joke.

      • It depends on the breakdown in percentage terms between:
        (a) those customers who would only join if it was $55 but not $77
        (b) those who would still join even if it was $77
        In many cases people wouldn’t have joined if they’d known it was $77 so Foxtel would have made 0.00 on those customers if they hadn’t falsely advertised – so it can be considerd a full amount was gained rather than a differential.

    • But does the fine represent an admission that the contract was faulty and therefore affords some opportunity for the duped to escape after 6 months?

      • Probably not. The payment schedule would be set out crystal clear in the T&C’s of the actual contract when people signed it. If people didn’t bother reading the T&C’s before they signed the contract thats their own fault.

        • Yeah, except that the misleading conduct makes the contract voidable. Also many people who sign up to Pay TV probably make an oral contract over the phone.

  • It doesn’t surprise me one bit that Foxtel mislead people with their advertising. They aggresively market their product with so many deals and offers but I am always wary of them that their is a trap for the unwary. They prey on the ignorant/elderly and take advantage of them and their lack of knowledge on the subject.

    So many times I think I would like Foxtel but are turned off by their tactics.

    Foxtel/Telstra always give the impression of giving a great deal but in reality they are rip off merchants. Not saying it’s not a good product, just over price.

  • I am just so glad that Telcos and Foxtel dont sell bread…First six slices are free, next sic slices cost 20 cents each and expire within to days of purchase, any attempt to freeze the rest and carry it over for to friday will contaminate the bread so it cannot be carried over to the next week so you have to buy more bread but this time you pay full price for all the slices and the slices just got smaller and if you want to put something on the bread (like Butter) a surcharge will apply etc etc.

  • Bloody fine print and asterisks. I have reached the age where reading the itsy bitsy writing is damn difficult. The government should legislate a bigger font size :P.

  • The ACCC should be investigating Telstra for it’s network is not 4G but rather Telstra FakeG created by them Ericsson retards. Telstra’s network is known in professional circles as “LTE Basic” which is not 4G. 4G is referred to as “LTE Advanced” and by definition provides a minimum of 100Mb/s speed of which Telstra’s FakeG network doesn’t even do half of that.

    So considering hundreds of millions of dollars are being wasted by Telstra on this gross mistake of building an incompatible network by world standards, it looks like some corrupt money is being thrown ACCCs way by Telstra so it can establish some pithy legal precedent that their FakeG network is 4G even though it has many downfalls including requiring custom handsets to be manufactured for it.

    Apple should tell the ACCC to crawl back into its hole for not knowing what 4G really is.

    • What how dare someone take apple to court for selling fake 4g.. Is that what your saying, how dare someone complain that that there “4G” Ipads only work on one US network, and pretty much nowhere else in the world. Well guess what apple, and all there millions of iSheep, may think you rule the world but you are actually outnumbered thousands to one. I don’t care what apple thinks apply, majority rules, and the rest of world is saying that one 4g network in One country does not an 4g iPad make.

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