ACCC takes Optus to court for allegedly misleading customers over NBN signups

By @chelean on
NBN
Three computer keyboard keys with the letters NBN, the acronym for National Broadband Network, are pictured in this photo illustration taken in Sydney June 23, 2011. Reuters/Tim Wimborne

Optus allegedly misled 20,000 of its customers and pressured them to sign up to the National Broadband Network earlier than allowed. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said on Friday that it has started proceedings against the telco in the Federal Court.

The ACCC claims that Optus made false and misleading representations to its customers between October 2015 and Marc 2017. The telco told its customers that it would disconnect their Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) network within a specified time period because NBN was coming to their area. The timeframes were earlier than Optus was contractually allowed to cancel its customers’ services.

The company also allegedly put pressure on customers to move to the NBN sooner than they were required to as Optus received significant payment from NBN Co for each customer that shifted from its cable network to the NBN. And between October 2015 and September 2016, Optus allegedly misled some of its customers, creating an impression that they were required to obtain NBN services from Optus instead of choosing to switch to any provider.

“We are also concerned that Optus cut off some of its customers’ Internet services when it had no contractual right to do so. Telephone and Internet are essential utilities and it is unacceptable for Optus to treat its customers this way,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.

“As the NBN rollout continues throughout Australia, people will be making decisions about which provider to go with. ISPs must not mislead consumers when competing for business. We are keeping a close eye on this sector and will take action where we see wrongdoing.”

Earlier this week, Optus admitted that it misled more than 8,700 customers about the speed of its NBN plans. It boasted maximum download speeds of up to 100 Mbps and maximum upload speeds of 40 Mbps on “Boost Max,” its most expensive plan. However, it turned out its customers were unable to reach the promised speeds. Hence, Optus said it would compensate the misled customers.

Competitor Telstra also admitted that it had misled consumers about its NBN speed. Last month, it said it would offer refunds to 42,000 customers for the mistake.