Telecommunications provider BVivid has been hit by more than A$25,000 in penalties for making telemarketing calls that “likely misled” consumers transitioning to the National Broadband Network (NBN).
BVivid provides a number of telecommunications services to Australian businesses and individual consumers, including fixed phone, ADSL and NBN services.
According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), BVivid cold-called consumers from October 2017 to at least May 2018 and told them that their internet services would be disconnected or that they would lose their telephone number if they did not move to the NBN immediately.
The ACCC said that the company, through a wholly-owned subsidiary in India, employed staff in India to promote its services by unsolicited telephone marketing to prospective consumers in Australia.
In some cases, the representations made by the telemarketers prompted customers to transfer from their current telecommunications services provider to BVivid without understanding the full nature of the NBN migration process or the services they were signing up to.
“BVivid’s calls likely misled consumers and gave them a false sense of urgency and need,” said ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court. “Consumers generally have 18 months from when the NBN becomes available in their area to switch before being at risk of disconnection.”
After being issued with two infringement notices by the ACCC over the cold-calling conduct, the company has paid A$25,200 in penalties and has admitted to likely breached the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
BVivid has also admitted that it likely breached the unsolicited consumer agreement protections in the ACL after providing services within the cooling-off period while failing to give customers a form they could use to terminate the contract.
“We are of the view that BVivid did not meet all their obligations to consumers who were subjected to their unsolicited marketing practices,” Court said.
“Consumers who find themselves signed up to a contract as a result of unsolicited marketing can cancel their contract without penalty within 10 business days of signing without needing to provide a reason,” she said.
According to the ACCC, the court enforceable undertaking it has accepted from BVivid in response to the action will also see the telco provide redress for customers affected by its conduct by allowing them to terminate their contract without penalty.
The undertaking will also see BVivid commission an independent review of all of its policies, practices and procedures relating to its sales and transfer methodology to ensure compliance with the ACL, among other measures.