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Video on demand services

23 October 2015

The rise of video on demand or steaming services such as Netflix, Stan and Presto reflects the change in how consumers watch movies and television shows. These services allow people to stream complete TV show seasons and watch movies at the touch of a button instead of having to wait for the next instalment of their favourite show.

Video on demand related complaints

Some telco providers have begun to include video on demand services in their phone and internet bundles. Coinciding with this trend, we have started to see consumer complaints about video on demand services included in telco bundles, with almost 250 new complaints between the launch of video on demand services in Australia in March 2015 and 30 June 2015. 

These complaints have included: 
  • delays in receiving equipment to access the video on demand service such as tablets, or TV boxes, and 
  • delays in receiving sign up information to enable promotional subscriptions. 
A very small proportion of these complaints related to internet slowdowns. 

Information for consumers

Here is some important information for consumers to consider when using video on demand services:

The fine print 

A telco provider may offer a free use period or unmetered data usage on certain video on demand sites. It is important for consumers to check:
  • which video on demand services will be unmetered on their data plans
  • when they need to start paying for the video on demand service, and
  • how they can cancel and whether cancellation fees will apply. 

Data usage 

Providers are required to send consumers free usage notifications within 48 hours of reaching 50%, 85%, and 100% of their plan’s allowance. Consumers can also regularly check their usage so that they can more accurately assess their usage patterns and if their data plan suits their needs. This is also a good way to avoid excess usage charges. 

Slow data speed

Slow data speed can depend on many factors, including peak usage times, faults in the area or bad weather. If consumers believe that their internet connection is not performing at the speeds they were promised, they can tell their provider about the problem. If the provider does not resolve their complaint, they can contact the TIO.

More information

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has published a guide for consumers called Streaming Services: Get the Full Story

It has information about video on demand services, how they may affect internet speeds, and consumer rights. 

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