'$1 a day' deal puts Vodafone in court

By Edward Gay

Photo / Natalie Slade
Photo / Natalie Slade

Vodafone is back in court charged with misleading customers over internet pricing plans for mobiles - just days before the telco expects to be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for a similar offence.

The Commerce Commission has laid a representative charge against Vodafone over its "$1 a day" mobile internet plan, which the company defended in the Auckland District Court yesterday.

The commission alleges that Vodafone misled customers during its $1 a Day campaign between July and November 2008. Commission lawyer Nick Flanagan said customers thought they were paying "$1 a day" for 10 megabytes of data but they were actually charged $1 after using only about 2 per cent of the 10MB allocation.

Vodafone's website said customers could pay $1 for 10MB and would be charged only for what they used.

Mr Flanagan said three complaints to the commission suggested customers thought they would pay only a fraction of the $1 if they did not use all 10MB.

One complainant, Linda McCracken, told the commission, "I took this to be that if, for example, I used 5MB it would only cost me 50c and if I used 2.5MB it would cost me 25c."

Mr Flanagan said there was no way customers would have known Vodafone's pricing structure.

For Vodafone, Bruce Gray, QC, said the telco never set out to mislead customers and likened the billing plan to all-day parking. People who paid for all-day parking but left at 11am did not expect a refund on their remaining hours.

The $1 a Day promotion was similar in that clients paid $1 for up to 10MB, he said.

Judge Anne Kiernan reserved her decision.

- NZ Herald

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