Vodafone New Zealand has been ordered to pay fines of almost NZD1.5 million (USD1.2 million) for a total of 21 breaches of the Fair Trading Act. The charges, which were brought by the Commerce Commission, relate to inaccurate marketing campaigns, and now Vodafone has been fined NZD960,000 in addition to fines of just under NZD500,000 imposed in 2011 for six other related charges. This week’s decision means that the total financial penalties incurred by Vodafone to date now stand at NZD1.444 million – reportedly the highest ever sum imposed on a single defendant under the Fair Trading Act. The charges relate to a number of advertising campaigns run by Vodafone between October 2006 and February 2009, including ‘Broadband Everywhere’, ‘Supa Prepay Connection Pack’ and ‘Largest 3G Network’.
Commerce Commission competition manager Stuart Wallace commented: ‘In issuing these penalties the court has recognised that Vodafone’s actions caused significant detriment to consumers and competitors. Today’s outcome concludes what has been a long-running case for the Commission and we are glad to finally have a resolution. In addition to the penalties imposed by the court, Vodafone has incurred significant costs in relation to the case as well as unwanted negative publicity. The commission is hopeful that the outcome of the case will provide a significant deterrent to others.’