Foxtel Pays Fine Of Xmas Advertising

  • Penalties over $46,000
  • Asterisk in adverts caused confusion
  • Fine print not good enough excuse

Foxtel has paid seven infringement notices totalling $46,200 regarding advertising of its Christmas Sale which the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) believed was misleading.

During November and December 2011, Foxtel ran a nationwide advertising campaign for its "Christmas Sale" which included a prominent headline that customers could acquire a F Foxtel subscription for $55 per month on a six-month contract. 

However, Foxtel’s Christmas Sale offer included an asterisk referring to fine print terms and conditions which locked customers into a 12 month contract under which the monthly subscription cost increased to $77 per month after the initial six months of the contract term.

The advertising campaign included television and radio commercials, newspaper and magazine advertising, website advertisements, direct mail advertising and brochures available at shopping centre kiosks.

The ACCC had reasonable grounds to believe that Foxtel's advertising was false and misleading and contravened the Australian Consumer Law.

"The inclusion of an asterisk or a fine print disclaimer does not remove the potential for a headline to be misleading," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.  "Companies must ensure that they do not use misleading headlines about the price and other key terms and conditions of the services being offered. It is not enough for a company to try to correct a misleading headline using fine print text."

The payment of an infringement notice penalty is not an admission of a contravention of the Australian Consumer Law. The ACCC can issue an infringement notice where it has reasonable grounds to believe a person has contravened certain consumer protection laws.

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