Vodafone fined for misleading customers

01:59, Sep 10 2012

Vodafone has been fined $960,000 on 11 charges of misleading its customers and committing "gross carelessness" in its advertising campaigns.

In the latest and "most serious" set of charges brought by the Commerce Commission the telecommunications company received a 20 per cent discount for pleading guilty.

The charges related to promotions of Vodafone's mobile data services between 2006 and 2009.

Vodafone offered customers a free $10 credit if they registered online but many customers could not redeem the offer because of technical problems with the registration website.

Vodafone also claimed to have the largest 3G network when it didn't and, in its Broadband Everywhere campaign, neglected to mention the mobile broadband service was only available to about 1 per cent of New Zealand's geography.

Justice David Harvey said Vodafone's offending was made worse because it had not fixed the problems, particularly with the $10 credit, but kept running the advertising campaigns.

The company did not treat complaints seriously enough, he said.

Meanwhile the promotion benefited Vodafone by about $450,000 as a result of people joining but not taking up the $10 free credit, said Harvey.

He said the misleading promotions were disseminated widely and had distorted a data market which was in its infancy.