Telecommunication services provider Voiteck Pty Ltd (Voiteck) has paid a penalty of $10,200 following the issue of an infringement notice by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The ACCC issued the infringement notice because it had reasonable grounds to believe that Voiteck had made false or misleading representations to residents of Lifestyle SA retirement villages about their right to choose a telecommunications services provider.
In June 2015, following Lifestyle SA selecting Voiteck as its ‘preferred’ telecommunications provider, Voiteck sent a letter to residents of Lifestyle SA retirement villages stating that:
- Voiteck had been chosen to provide internet and telephone services to Lifestyle SA;
- in July 2015 Voiteck would become their billing provider; and
- Voiteck would be migrating all residents to new call rates and internet services.
The ACCC considered that the letter represented to Lifestyle SA residents that they did not have a choice of internet and telephone services provider, and were required to use Voiteck for these services, when this was not the case.
“Consumer protection issues involving vulnerable consumers, particularly older consumers, is a current enforcement priority for the ACCC,” Acting ACCC Chairman Michael Schaper said.
“In this case, the ACCC was concerned that residents of Lifestyle SA retirement villages were given the misleading impression that they had no choice of internet and telephone services provider and were required to use Voiteck. In reality, they were free to choose any service provider,” Dr Schaper said.
The payment of a penalty specified in an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the ACL. The ACCC can issue an infringement notice where it has reasonable grounds to believe a person has contravened certain consumer protection laws.