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AOL France fined for misleading advertising

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AOL France has been found guilty of misleading advertising over its flat-rate Internet access service.

A court upheld a complaint by the consumer group UCF, acting on behalf of two Net users, which claimed that AOL France's decision to impose restrictions on the service was contrary to the ISP's ads.

AOL France was forced to impose 30 minute timeouts when its offer for flat rate unmetered access attracted too many users.

UCF claimed this was a breach of contract.

AOL France claimed the timers were only a temporary measure until it could increase capacity.

The ISP has been ordered to pay damages of FF250,000 (£24,000) and print an apology in four national newspapers.

The court also ruled that the ISP should be fined FF50,000 (£4,800) a day for every day the restrictions remain imposed.

AOL France has reacted angrily to the ruling made earlier this week and will appeal.

In a statement AOL France said that it "strongly disagrees with the ruling" and that the issue is "largely moot since we are lifting the session timers that are at the centre of the case".

The statement continued: "AOL has always acted in the best interest of its members, and our flat-rate offer has been a great success in delivering the Internet to a broad new segment of consumers who did not come online before because of the high price of metered Internet access.

"We implemented session timers as a fair, equitable and temporary measure that helped us maximise the number of members who could get online while we accelerated expansion of our network in response to high demand for our service.

"We invested FF 600 million (£57 million) adding nearly 60,000 new modems and doubling our member service team. As a result, we are able to discontinue the session timers, effective Wednesday," it said.

Coincidentally (and it had nothing to do with this court case) it was always AOL France's intention to discontinue the session timers this week. Ho hum. ®

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