Spark, Vodafone, 2degrees, MyRepublic notified over misleading prices, marketing.

New Zealand’s competition watchdog on Monday warned four mobile operators over possible violations of the country’s Fair Trade Act.

The New Zealand Commerce Commission (NZCC) has written to incumbent Spark, Vodafone, 2degrees and MyRepublic to inform them that they have engaged in conduct that is likely to have broken the rules.

Such conduct includes misleading advertising about services and pricing by not disclosing additional costs or terms and conditions.

"The complexity and range of goods and services offered by the industry means consumers can be easily confused about product offerings. Almost every New Zealander uses a mobile or fixed-line phone and broadband, so the telecommunications sector has the potential to have a significant impact on consumers," said NZCC commissioner Anna Rawlings, in a statement.

Spark is accused of implying the imminent closure of Vodafone’s 2G network when marketing its low-cost brand, Skinny Mobile.

Vodafone is alleged to have misled consumers about additional costs associated with ‘free’ goods or services bundled with its 12-month broadband plans. On some occasions, Vodafone has also advertised monthly headline prices that did not include additional fees for ‘free’ goods or services, the Commission said.

The NZCC said 2degrees had not identified or adequately disclosed the additional cost of a modem and its delivery when advertising the price of its unlimited broadband plan.

Meanwhile, MyRepublic is accused of a string of misdeeds, including promoting a 1-Gbps service two months before it was actually available. It also allegedly told customers on its GAMER broadband plan that they would not experience lag or latency, when actually both could be caused by third party servers.

MyRepublic also allegedly told some customers that they could not cancel their service once it had commenced, even though this right is protected by the Fair Trade Act.

In July, the NZCC identified retail telecoms as one of its priority focus areas for 2017-2018, due to ongoing concerns about service quality.

"The telco sector continues to generate a high volume of consumer complaints, despite previous compliance and enforcement work by the Commission," Rawlings said on Monday.