Telco fined $1.5m for NBN deception

The Federal Court has ordered Optus to pay penalties of $1.5 million for misleading its customers during their transition to the NBN.

From October 2015 to March 2017, Optus told around 14,000 customers that their internet services would be disconnected if they did not move to the NBN, some within 30 days.

However, the terms of its contract actually gave Optus no right to force its customers to make the switch to the new national network.

On top of threats of disconnection, Optus also implied that its customers had to sign up to Optus NBN services, when, in actuality, they could have signed up with any internet provider offering the NBN.

This deception netted Optus around $750,000.

“Optus pressured customers by misrepresenting the time period in which services could be disconnected,” said Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chairman Rod Sims.

“Businesses should not make false representations which distort customers’ decision making.  This is particularly important when many Australians are moving to the NBN for the first time,” Mr Sims said.

“It is illegal for businesses to mislead their customers and create a false impression through their communications. Today’s penalty serves as a warning to all businesses that such behaviour will be met with ACCC action.”

Since the ACCC commenced proceedings against Optus in December 2017, the telco has paid $833,000 in compensation to customers who had their services disconnected and has complied with a Statement of Agreed Facts and Joint Penalty Submissions leading to this decision.

Were you forced to disconnect your existing internet service and sign up to the NBN? Was it with Optus? Were you aware that you can sign up with any provider offering the NBN?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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