Three Vocus subsidiaries: CallPlus, Flip and Orcon have been fined $121,500 for sending false invoices to customers.
The companies pleaded guilty and were convicted on 13 charges. The billing took place between 2012 and 2018. The companies terms and conditions said charges would stop a month after a customer ended a contract.
In nearly 6000 cases the company sent a final invoice including charges that went beyond that time. Auckland District Court Judge Glubb said the behaviour was "not inadvertent but nor was it deliberate. Rather, it was a failure to implement and then ensure proper processes were operating. This was highly careless”.
Commerce Commission Chair Anna Rawlings says customers have the right to expect that businesses will invoice them accurately.
It has been a busy week for the Commerce Commission which also warned Vodafone about potentially misleading claims in a loyalty discount promotion.
This comes after the company sent emails to customers who were nearing the end of broadband contracts. The emails offered a $10 per month discount if they renewed their contract for a further 12 months.
The Commission says the offer was likely to mislead customers because it created the impression the discount would be off the price they were currently paying.
In fact, the discount was taken off Vodafone’s standard pricing plans at the time. Which meant that customers who renewed contracts would lose their existing discounts. In some cases, this meant customers may have ended up paying more each month than they would have if they had rolled over their previous contract.
Rawlings says in the Commission’s view Vodafone’s conduct likely breached the Fair Trading Act. “All businesses that offer discounts and promotions need to be paying close attention to their systems and processes to ensure customers are charged the correct amount or receive the agreed benefit."