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TPG's $2m misleading ads fine cut back to $50K

Australian telecommunications company TPG has won an appeal, reducing its AU$2 million fine for misleading ads to just AU$50,000.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

TPG has successfully reduced its AU$2 million fine for misleading ads dating back to 2010, with the Full Bench of the Federal Court today reducing the fine to just AU$50,000.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took TPG to court over ads for its AU$29.99 fixed-line broadband plan at the end of 2010, claiming that the ads failed to disclose the full cost of the plan, which included a AU$30 line-rental charge.

The first set of ads, which aired between September and October 2010, was broadcast on three national TV stations, seven capital city radio stations, and was published in one national and six capital city newspapers, as well as on the internet.

After a complaint from the ACCC, TPG changed the ads, and then extended the advertising to another TV station, more newspapers, magazines, websites, cinemas, billboards, trains, buses, trams, stations, airports, and on noticeboards in public restrooms.

In November 2011, Justice Bernard Murphy ruled against the telecommunications company, finding that, although TPG advertised the unlimited plan for AU$29.99, it did not adequately disclose that the cost was AU$59.99 per month, including line rental. Accordingly, in June 2012, he handed the company a AU$2 million fine.

TPG appealed the ruling, and in December, the Full Bench of the Federal Court found that only the original TV ads were misleading.

The court today reduced the fine to AU$50,000, and ordered the ACCC to pay 75 percent of TPG's costs for the trial and the appeal.

The ACCC filed an application to seek to appeal the case to the High Court in January, meaning the case will continue if the High Court decides to hear it.

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