Telecom drops Vodafone ad challenge

A sample of the recent 'SuperNet' advertising campaign.
A sample of the recent 'SuperNet' advertising campaign.

Telecom says its arch rival Vodafone has now changed its latest internet advertising campaign after High Court proceedings were launched claiming it breached fair trading laws.

This means Telecom has pulled out of the attempt to get the ads stopped, but it will still pursue a complaint with the Commerce Commission.

"Vodafone has made a number of changes and amendments to its 'SuperNet' advertising after Telecom recently commenced High Court proceedings in respect of certain aspects of the campaign. The changes are sufficient for Telecom to determine that it no longer needs to proceed with formal court proceedings at this time," said Telecom in a statement.

Vodafone had, said Telecom, "confirmed that several aspects of the campaign have ceased and that qualifying statements have been added to the advertising."

Telecom said that "Vodafone claimed the absence of these qualifiers was an 'oversight' despite the fact it had refused to add them weeks earlier when this was pointed out by Telecom."

Vodafone consumer director Matt Williams said that Telecom was being "insincere" about why the court action was dropped, saying its tweaks to the ad campaign add "some extra explanations to a couple of ads, specifically around the availability of 4G and our ultrafast broadband," and that the company wasn't compelled to do so.

"This decision today means we can get on with delivering great services and products to our customers, without distraction. We have always been confident in our superior network and the statements this campaign makes about it.

"We received Telecom's injunction proceedings on Thursday 1 August, which asked us to withdraw the SuperNet campaign. We responded with our evidence last night. This morning Telecom has dropped the case."

Telecom's claim today that it withdrew the court action following Vodafone making "a number of changes and amendments" to the campaign is insincere.

"To ensure all of our statements are crystal clear for customers, we added some extra explanations to a couple of ads, specifically around the availability of 4G and our ultra fast broadband. We were not compelled to do this as a result of this court action.

Telecom had been seeking a High Court interim injunction requiring Vodafone to change certain aspects of the campaign on the basis they breached the Fair Trading Act 1986, as it believed the advertisements were misleading and likely to deceive consumers.

"Given the changes now made, we have achieved this immediate objective," said Telecom Retail chief executive Chris Quin.

He said Vodafone's actions had raised 'serious concerns' under the Fair Trading Act, so Telecom would complain to the Commerce Commission.

"Technology is becoming increasingly complex and ever more important in the lives of New Zealand consumers. It's therefore crucial that major market players act responsibly in ensuring their advertising is clear, informative and doesn't mislead or deceive," said Quin.

In November last year Vodafone was fined $960,000 for what was the latest in a string of misleading advertising prosecutions brought by the Commerce Commission.

The 21 charges related to claims made by Vodafone regarding the extent of the coverage of its wireless broadband network, made in the "broadband everywhere" campaign.

Telecom itself admitted breaching the Fair Trading Act after misleading customers about the amount of broadband data they had used.

It reached a settlement with the Commerce Commission over the breach, which came about when inaccurate readings were used for around 97,000 customer accounts between November 2010 and June 2011 - caused by a software fault in its meters.

Telecom said the changes made by Vodafone included:

- "removing the world 'fastest' from its online and YouTube advertisement and putting in a disclaimer about the extent of its 4G network coverage and other aspects of signing up to its service.

- Television advertisements for its 4G network had stopped and others now had "suitably prominent qualifiers of "4G is live in parts of New Zealand" and "a qualifying plan and capable device are required" added.

- Vodafone has confirmed that it no longer intends to use a 'long form' advertisement that was distributed in a range of New Zealand newspapers, which Telecom objected to.

- Vodafone had confirmed to Telecom that billboards concerning HD video and gaming on 4G are no longer being used.

-NZ Herald

- NZ Herald

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