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ACCC cracks down on telco’s ripping off customers

Consumer watchdog ACCC is waiting for new powers to clamp down on telcos, after numerous complaints about telecommunications company Dodo ripping off customers with misleading advertising.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission announced last week that Dodo, a frequent target of false advertising complaints, had misled customers who signed up to its “free offer plans” between October last year and March this year.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman received a staggering 6683 complaints in relations to Dodo’s misleading advertising claims, in 2007-08.

Dodo promised customers who signed up to mobile and broadband plans the choice of a “free” Asus Eee PC, fuel card or cash payment, but they were far from free.

Dodo was in fact offering comparable plans without the “free” goods for $30 a month less. They are now promising to refund customers who signed up to the free offer plans and lower their monthly fees.

However the ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said his efforts to clamp down on rogue telcos were being hampered because he did not have the power to fine them.

A spokesman for the Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs Minister, Chris Bowen, said changes need to be made to the Trade Practices Act, to enable the ACCC to impose financial penalties on companies who mislead consumers in such a blatant manner.

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