- The ACCC recently issued a media release saying that since the VHA-TPG merger, mobile prices of Vodafone and its competitors had gone up.
- TPG spoke out in regards to this, saying that while the company couldn’t speak for its competitors, but for its brands, the ACCC’s statement is false.
- According to TPG, the prices the ACCC used for analysis and subsequently quoted in the media release aren’t what customers are paying.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recently issued a media release saying that since the VHA-TPG merger, mobile prices of Vodafone and its competitors had gone up. Anyone could predict what happened next, and sure enough, multiple headlines telling consumers that they’re paying more for their mobile service followed.
TPG spoke out in regards to this, saying that while the company couldn’t speak for its competitors, but for its brands - including Vodafone and iiNet - the ACCC’s statement is false.
According to TPG, the prices the ACCC used for analysis and subsequently quoted in the media release aren’t what customers are paying. Since the merger - which happened in mid-2020 - their mobile plans have notably lower prices or have more inclusions as far as data is concerned.
In response, the ACCC admitted that it used data from the Critical Information Summary instead of advertised pricing; however it refused to change or retract the misleading media release. It’s worth noting that the CIS includes plan details because regulation requires it, but the information the Summary contains doesn’t always reflect current offers like bonus data and reduced prices, which most providers use since this allows for quick responses to competition.
TPG adds that had it used prices offered in-store or online, it should have been clear that nearly all mobile plans their brands offer have more value than they did before the merger. Instead, the ACCC claims that Vodafone customers subscribed to a particular plan are now paying up to an additional $40 a month, when, in fact, that same plan goes for $60 a month and comes with 500GB of data. This is cheaper than the plan it replaced last year, and has more than thrice the data.
The iiNet $29.99 per month plan is another example of a plan that’s seen price reductions since the merger. In August 2020, it had just 4GB of data. Now, it has 40GB and for the first six months, subscribers pay only $15 a month. Since that same merger, TPG has also launched Felix, a prepaid plan that offers unlimited data for just $35 a month, and at 20Mbps - the first plan at that price point.
TPG concluded their response to the ACCC’s claims by saying it’s unclear why the latter chose to publish misleading data, but also that they were disappointed in the ACCC’s actions. TPG stated that there were many issues that required attention, giving regional mobile coverage and NBN pricing as examples, yet the Commission chose to focus on spreading false information, or else drawing the wrong conclusions.
Do the ACCC’s pricing claims have anything to do with the Federal Court ruling in favor of the VHA-TPG merger, which meant the ACCC lost practically every issue they brought up with the Court? No one can be certain, but TPG seems to believe this is the case, and urged the ACCC to start moving on and focus on what’s really important, as the former did.