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Spark fined $675k for misleading customers

Newshub logoNewshub 12/04/2019 Vita Molyneux
a close up of a sign © File

Telecommunications company Spark has been convicted after admitting nine charges of breaching the Fair Trading Act.

The company has been fined $675,000 for making false or misleading representations in its customer invoicing, according to the Commerce Commission.

Eight of the charges related to misrepresentations Spark made in customer invoicing. 

The terms and conditions stated charges would stop 30 days after customers gave notice to terminate their contracts. 

However, 72,000 customers were charged for services after the 30 day period.

"Overcharging even a small amount to individual customers can result in businesses receiving large sums of money that they are not entitled to. In this instance customers overpaid $6.6 million, averaging an overcharge of $90 per person," said Commissioner Anna Rawlings.

The ninth charge relates to promotional letters distributed by Spark that offered $100 account credit if they joined, and subscribed to a broadband plan. 

The letters implied customers could sign up online and receive the credit, but the truth was credit would only be given to customers who telephoned Spark to sign up.

"It is commercial offending, and commercial offending must be met with commercial penalties," said Auckland District Court Judge Russell Collins.

Spark has also been issued with a warning regarding its failure to correctly apply a $300 welcome credit to the accounts of eligible customers.

Customers affected by this were issued with invoices seeking payment for services where payment was not due because Spark ought to have applied the promised credit to the customers' accounts. 

Spark identified and self-reported this particular issue to the Commerce Commission.

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