DOJ to Smart, Globe: Don't mislead customers with 'unli Internet'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 12 2014 04:40 PM | Updated as of Dec 13 2014 08:31 AM

MANILA, Philippines - "Unlimited" internet service means unlimited, the Department of Justice reminded telco giants Smart Communications and Globe Telecom.

The DOJ warned Smart and Globe not to mislead subscribers with "unlimited" Internet packages, which usually are throttled after reaching the data limit.

"While there is nothing wrong with advertisements and promotions, what is promised must be delivered. Our laws require not only truth in advertising but also fairness in packaging and consistency in the provision of the service," Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima said in a statement.

An advisory was issued after the DOJ-Office for Competition received complaints about various "unli" promos.

The DOJ issued a 9-page advisory last December 9, insisting the imposition of fair usage policy on unlimited internet service is
inconsistent with the provisions of the Consumer Act of the Philippines, particularly on fair packaging and misleading trade practice and advertisements.

The DOJ reminded the telcos that such practice is punishable with a fine of not more than P10,000 or jail time of at least five months to one year or both.

Also, non-compliance with the requisites of fair packaging can also be criminally penalized by a fine of not more than P20,000 or imprisonment of not more than two years.

The DOJ said data throttling renders "unlimited" data promos as inconsistent with the marketing claims, and ultimately misleading.

"The imposition of data throttling on unlimited internet could also be regarded as a violation of the provisions prohibiting false, misleading or deceptive advertisements, hence, deemed punishable in accordance with law," the DOJ said.

At the same time, the DOJ said the Department of Trade and Industry has received 40 complaints regarding intermittently slow to almost Internet service, while 18 complained about restricted "unlimited" services.

The DOJ said Smart started imposing the Fair Use Policy in 2010, while Globe started implementing it in January this year.