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NIB fined $10,000 for misleading waiver claims

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has fined NIB Health Funds $10,200 for misleading advertising about the waiting period for “Extras” cover.

The ACCC said it has reasonable grounds to believe that NIB contravened Australian Consumer Law (ACL) when it promoted its combined Hospital and Extras Cover during December 2012 to November 2014.

In the marketing campaign, NIB offered to waive the waiting period – marketed as “usually” or “normally” 2 months wait – when NIB customers had already had the benefit available for almost two years (23 months) before December 2012.

“Consumers should be able to make informed purchasing decisions. Claims that benefits are only available if a product or service is purchased by a specified date must be true and not mislead consumers,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.

“Businesses which extend an offer for a considerable time beyond its original expiry date should ensure that representations made in connection with the offer do not become misleading to consumers as a result.”

The ACCC points out that the payment of a fine does not equate to “an admission of a contravention of the ACL”.

According to The Herald, NIB responded by saying:

“The offer was not extended beyond November 30 last year.

“At the core of our business strategy is ensuring we offer our customers first class products and service.

“The offer which was advertised as part of this campaign did not restrict customers accessing the full range of extras benefits included with the product.”