TPG ads: Has the ACCC gone too far?


blog News arrived last week that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission was taking cheap-ass national broadband provider TPG to court for misleading ads, in a similar attempted slap-down that the regulator delivered to Optus only a short while ago.

Key to the ACCC’s argument, as we wrote last week, is that TPG’s ‘Unlimited’ plan, which costs $29.99 per month for the broadband component, actually costs a fair bit more, with line rental, connection and deposit charges. The only problem is that, as TPG points out in a statement this week, its advertisements clearly point the extra charges out:

“TPG is disappointed with the ACCC’s decision to bring proceedings against it in relation to our award winning $29.99 Unlimited broadband plan which is available when bundled with line rental at $30 per month. This plan continues TPG’s value leading services and has been very well supported by customers across the country. TPG believes that our advertising clearly and properly represents the costs involved and we will be defending the proceedings.”

Now, it’s not often your humble writer sides with TPG. We delivered the company a bit of a rebuke when it bought PIPE Networks, we’ve been known to opine about the strength of its customer service in the past, and we typically tend to recommend either iiNet or Internode to others when they ask us which ISP they should source their broadband from.

However, in this case, it has to be said that it looks like TPG is on solid ground defending the ACCC’s lawsuit.

Over the past week, we’ve been keeping an eye out for the company’s advertisements in a variety of media. Cinema ads, internet ads, print ads, ads on the sides of buses. And one thing seems clear: All of the TPG ‘Unlimited’ ads we’ve seen have displayed the extra costs pretty prominently. Sure, they’re not in a huge font size, but they’re there. It looks like TPG is right in this case: It doesn’t appear to have done anything wrong.

With this in mind, we have to ask: Has the ACCC gone too far with this lawsuit? Have Graeme Samuel and co bitten off more than they can chew?

Image credit: Ramzi Hashisho, royalty free


  1. Nope. ‘Unlimited’ means ‘unlimited’, no matter how many weasel words you splash in with photoshop. It has a clearly defined and understood meaning to the average punter, and can reasonably and supportedly be seen as false advertising in this context.

  2. I don’t see TPG’s advertisements at all out of step without what everyone else is doing. Was waiting for the train the other day and noticed the ads, the extra charges are there on the advert and easily identified. As you said, it’s not in a huge font, but it’s not completely tiny down the very bottom corner in a low contrast colour either.

  3. The lesson that TPG is not taking here is that using the word ‘unlimited’ is now Right Out; that’s been made clear and they should have known this, but they’re trying it on anyway.

    • Actually, it does look as though TPG’s offering is pretty much truly “unlimited”, so I don’t see what the problem is there. It’s not speed or download capped and I haven’t seen many bad terms or conditions either.

  4. Do you know for certain that TPG hasn’t changed its ads since the ACCC first raised its concerns with them? The original Delimiter article about the proceedings notes that it’s unclear whether this is the case…

    • I asked them that, but they didn’t respond. However, some of these ads were in the cinema just two days after the ACCC’s complaint, and on a Sunday. I would find it very hard to believe that new creative could have been delivered and put into the cinema advertising system in that time.

  5. While I can’t comment on the cinema ads. I did see the first round of ads in the paper. The requirement for line rental and the costs where quite obvious and included in the contract total etc.

    They seemed up front with it all to me.

  6. I know the radio ads have certainly always said “when you bundle with TPG’s home phone for $30 a month” so I don’t see the problem, either.

    The plans are definitely “unlimited” in the usual sense of the word. If you look at some of their posts on whirlpool, they explicitly state that there’s no capping, no throttling and no shaping on their unlimited plan.

  7. Every TPG add I ever saw had all the info there.
    & by the way, the only issues I’ve found on the unlimited plan is using it all.
    A true ‘all you can eat’ plan @ whatever your line speed is (I’m lucky, I get about 18Mb/s).

    The ACCC have got this one wrong.


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