Web Hosting Firm Dreamscape Networks Fined $56,340 for Misleading Representation

Dreamscape Networks International has faced penalties totaling $56,340 following three infringement notices issued by the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission).
Internet user on laptop
The penalties relate to alleged false or misleading representations concerning two ‘free’ products automatically included at checkout and misrepresentation of the benefits of its Domain Privacy product.

Operating the Crazydomains.com.au website, Dreamscape offers various services encompassing domain name registration, web hosting, and web design.

Between October 2019 and July 2023, the website promoted a ‘3-month website builder’ product and an ‘additional domain name registration’ as free offerings. Although marketed as ‘free’ and automatically added to a customer’s cart, these products had an auto-renewal feature resulting in fees post the free period. The crucial information about auto-renewal and associated fees was allegedly not clearly communicated to consumers during the purchase.

ACCC Commissioner Liza Carver stressed the importance of businesses providing accurate information about products or services being purchased, citing concerns that consumers might have misunderstood the additional ‘free’ products due to the lack of clarity regarding ongoing subscription costs.

The ACCC’s scrutiny also revealed misleading claims regarding the Domain Privacy product, which purportedly offered protection against information exposure for .au domain names. However, consumers who purchased this product were not provided the promised privacy, as contact names or email addresses remained visible in the public domain. This misrepresentation extended from October 2019 to November 2023.

In response to the ACCC’s actions, Dreamscape has updated its product disclosures regarding auto-renewal, costs, and the functionality of its privacy products, addressing the concerns raised by the commission.

Dreamscape, registered in Singapore, engages in domain name registration, a process involving licensing a domain name on the internet for a specific period. Consumers can obtain or renew domain names through registrars or resellers such as Crazy Domains, which mediates between registrants and registrars.

The payment of the imposed penalty does not constitute an admission of a breach of the Australian Consumer Law. The ACCC issues infringement notices when it reasonably suspects a breach of certain consumer protection provisions within the law.

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