06 December 2010

Unlimited means Unlimited

In October 2010 I wrote about some comments made by Perram J in the Federal Court of Australia regarding the use of “unlimited” with reference to internet bandwidth.

His Honour has now given judgement in Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Singtel Optus Pty Ltd [2010] FCA 1177 (29 October 2010).

The case centres around advertisements for broadband, and in particular the 150 GB plan, which is really 75 GB + 75 GB (the plan I use, actually). His Honour said:

Viewed in isolation at the moment of its delivery this advertisement plainly misleads consumers into thinking that they will receive 150GB of broadband when they are getting no such thing unless they assiduously ensure that they exhaust all of their off-peak usage allowance before exhausting their peak usage allowance.

I understood this before signing up, and I’m pretty happy with the plan, but it is true – you do have to use your morning allowance completely before using up all your afternoon/evening allowance.

The Court eventually held that Optus should adequately disclose that speed limiting will be applied once peak usage is reached. In other words – speed limited unlimited data is not “unlimited”!

So, in Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Singtel Optus Pty Ltd (No 2) [2010] FCA 1200 (2 November 2010) the Court ordered that:

1. The respondent [Optus], for a period of three years from the date of these orders, whether by itself, its servants or agents or otherwise howsoever, be restrained from advertising broadband internet plans under which:

1.1 for a specified monthly sum, the customer is supplied with a monthly data allowance which is divided between peak and off-peak periods; and

1.2 if the customer exceeds the monthly data allowance for the peak period the speed of the internet service will be limited for both the peak and off-peak periods for the remainder of that month without clearly and prominently disclosing in the advertisements for those plans the facts set out in paragraph 1.2 above.

2. The respondent pay the applicant’s costs to date.

The Court also later ordered corrective mailouts and advertisements.

And it’s not finished yet – the matter was listed for directions on 23 November 2010 in relation to the orders, costs and preparation for the penalty hearing. I’ll keep an eye on it.


Chinese internet domain name scam

There are a lot of scams on the internet.  A particularly popular one is the Chinese domain name scam. A person will write to you from China, apparently from a domain name registrar, letting you know that someone in China wants to register a domain name that uses your trademark. The email will be very similar to the one below.

It's a scam. Don't fall for it, because no-one is applying for the names, and you probably don't do business in China anyway.
Some of the email simply doesn't make any sense at all, such as "Network Brand". You will also see variants referring to "internet keyword". They're just silly.

Some people enjoy emailing them back and asking them to call - you can have a lengthy international call at their cost about the weather in China, or the food in China, or anything else you might like to talk about...

From: John [mailto:mrjohn@lh-group.org]
Sent: Friday, 3 December 2010 8:01 PM
Subject: URGENT!! Asia Domains Registration Announcement
Importance: High Mrjohn@lh-group.org (Please forward this email to your CEO or the responsible man for your IP. Thanks) Dear CEO,
As one of the leading internet solutions organizations in China, we have something to confirm with you. We formally received an application on Today, a company named "Asia Investment Co.,Ltd." it intends to register '' yourdomainname'' as Network Brand and the following domain names:
But after checking it, we find this name conflict with your company. so we need to check with you whether your company has authorized that company to register these names or not. If you have authorized this, we will finish the registration at once. If you haven't authorize, please let us know within 7 workdays, so that we will handle this issue better. Exceeding the limited time, we will unconditionally finish the registration for "Asia Investment Co.,Ltd.". Looking forward to your reply.
Best Regards,
LH Group
Address:Room 4-19,NO.6, Xinsheng Village One, Yangjiaping,Jiulongpo District, Chongqing, China(the original Rongzhou Garden Block A)2010-12-3 Please consider the environment before you print this e-mailwww.lh-group.org