Budget telco Vaya has stopped charging its customers a fee to 'freeze' the terms of their contract beyond its expiry, following an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Complaints to the telco spiked in September 2014 when Vaya began emailing customers at the end of their 24-month contracts saying they could keep their current plan if they paid a “plan freeze fee” of $9.90 on top of their existing contract. In some cases, Vaya charged customers the additional fee before their contract had expired.
The ACCC found that the plan freeze fee email was misleading as customer’s rates were fixed under their contract.
Complaints continued into February 2015 when Vaya told customers they were required to pay a “once-off, refundable $20 security deposit”.
The ACCC found that the additional fee failed to inform customers of their rights to terminate their contracts with Vaya.
Vaya has responded by refunding customers the plan freeze fee and security deposit and has informed customers of their right terminate their contracts without penalty.
“The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission welcomes voluntary action by businesses in addressing consumer complaints,” said ACCC commissioner Sarah Court.
The ACCC advised customers that they should familiarise themselves with their rights if a service provider changes contract arrangements.
A Vaya spokesperson told CRN: “The ACCC media release issued on Tuesday 8 March concludes the Vaya investigation, following voluntary steps taken by the company to address the areas of concern. We are committed to improving our customer communications and advertising.”