TPG Telecom brands ACCC "out of touch" over mobile competition claims

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TPG Telecom brands ACCC "out of touch" over mobile competition claims
Image credit: TPG Telecom

Says numbers relied on by commission were offset by promotions.

TPG Telecom called the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) “out of touch” for suggesting that the major telcos had raised prices and stopped competing for customers after TPG and Vodafone merged.

The ACCC revived a long-running spat over the $15 billion TPG-Vodafone merger on Monday morning when it produced ‘analysis’ that it said showed prices had risen across the sector since the merger.

The commission unsuccessfully tried to block the merger on the basis that TPG and Vodafone remaining separate would be good for competition.

The revival prompted a scathing response from TPG Telecom, which called the ACCC’s analysis “simple and misleading”.

“The ACCC is out of touch to suggest that mobile providers, as commercial businesses, are not competing hard for customers every day,” a TPG Telecom spokesperson said.

“The bottom line is, we are offering better value and a better network experience because we’re able to compete harder for customers after the merger.”

TPG refuted ACCC assertions that its prices had gone up since the merger, and said that went against prior research by the commission.

“We have not raised mobile prices since the merger,” the spokesperson said.

“The ACCC has chosen to use data that doesn’t reflect what our customers are actually paying. 

“It has ignored the ongoing promotions for Vodafone and other brands, which are one of the main methods to provide customers with better discounts or inclusions.

“The ACCC has also not mentioned the aggressive pricing of handsets, increased inclusions, the billions we invest in our mobile network to enhance the service we provide, and our Covid relief measures.

“The ACCC’s conclusions even contradict its own communications market report which found prices paid by customers are down 16.7 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019.”

TPG said that the mobile plan rates used in the ACCC’s analysis “are not the prices that Vodafone customers are paying because of ... rolling promotions we have had in place during the relevant period.”

“Vodafone customers are paying up to 50 percent less than what the ACCC has quoted,” it said.

“We have only been able to continue to offer these incentives because of our increased scale following the merger.”

TPG said it had offerings across its “portfolio of brands” that could “suit the different needs of all customers.”

A Telstra spokesperson also refuted the ACCC analysis and conclusions in a statement to iTnews.

“The mobile market in Australia offers consumers a huge range of choices across different plans and price points in a very competitive environment,” Telstra’s spokesperson said.

“We’re making significant investment in the capability and coverage of our mobile network right across the country, including in regional Australia.

“Our new simplified plans offer no lock in contracts and allow customers to move up and down plans and price points depending on their usage and budget.”

An Optus spokesperson, meanwhile, said that it continued to offer “value” to the market.

“The industry is building out the future of mobile connectivity and investing billions of dollars in building 5G networks,” Optus’ spokesperson said.

“With significant investment in networks, innovation, and new products and services, we believe our prices remain the best value in-market and importantly support a sustainable and competitive sector for all Australians to enjoy.”

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