Determinations

TDR Case Note T003525 (2009)

Issue

Misleading advertising and failure of network coverage for overseas roaming services.

Background

The customer subscribed to mobile phone and data services with the Scheme Member Provider (Provider). The provider’s promotional material had offered a free handset that would roam to multiple countries.

In fact, the customer experienced great difficulty using the roaming service overseas with his new handset. He said that this was due to both hardware and network problems. He also claimed that he incurred unnecessary costs by having to transfer to an alternative service provider. He said that he was not given full or adequate information about international roaming capacity when subscribing to the service, and complained that the promotional material was misleading. He sought monetary compensation for the costs incurred in transferring to the alternative provider.

The provider responded that the roaming difficulty was an overseas network coverage problem, which was outside its control. It further responded that coverage issues are excluded from the scope of the scheme. In respect of the alleged misleading promotional material, the provider argued that this too was beyond the scope of the scheme.

Adjudicator’s decision

The adjudicator found that there were essentially two issues.

Firstly, as there was an absence of evidence relating to any defect in the mobile handset, the issue was about the international roaming service. With reference to clause 20.1(f) of the Customer Complaints Code (the Code), the adjudicator upheld the provider’s submission that the complaint regarding network coverage failure was excluded from the scope of the TDR scheme.

Secondly, in regard to the customer’s allegation about being given inaccurate information by the provider, the adjudicator found that this was an issue about advertising content. As such, it was excluded under clause 20.1(i) of the Code, and would more appropriately be considered by the Advertising Standards Authority.

In any event, the adjudicator found that the promotional material provided by the provider referred to the terms and conditions of overseas roaming services. These provided that the provider was not liable for the quality of the network coverage overseas. The adjudicator thus found that the customer had full knowledge of the limitation of liability in respect of roaming services when subscribing to the provider’s services, and that the promotional material was therefore not misleading.

Final outcome

The adjudicator dismissed the complaint and concluded that: (1) the complaint regarding the failure of overseas network coverage (roaming service) was excluded from the scope of TDR scheme, as provided for in clause 20.1 (f) of the Code; and (2) there was no specific or identifiable breach of the Code regarding the complaint of misleading promotional material. There were therefore no remedies awarded.