Optus forced to pay out $1.5m for misleading NBN customers

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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 is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?

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20 Comments

Total Comments: 20
  1. 0
    0

    that’s what they told us

  2. 0
    0

    A pity the ACCC were not as vigilant with the Banks and other Financial Institutions and we wouldn’t be in this mess. The fines need to be revised though as 1.5 million to Optus is chicken feed.

  3. 0
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    WELL I HAVE BEEN AN OPTUS CUSTOMER FOR 9 YEARS AND THEY HAVE NEVER TOLD ME.
    WHO IS TELLING THE TRUTH.

  4. 0
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    I’m taking bets on how long it will take MICK to blame the government on this.

  5. 0
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    As far as I can see (and I have not read the actual case or the judgement) the main issue is telling customers they have to renew service with Optus and not mentioning the customer can go elsewhere.

    Because telling customers they have move to the NBN is NOT misleading customers at all. Once an area is connected to the NBN there is a ‘grace period’ of about 18 months for the people in that area to change to an NBN provider before the old system is switched off. You have NO CHOICE but to accept NBN or lose internet/phone access.

    The only choice you have is which service provider to use. And that seems to ne the real issue with Optus in that they lead people to believe they had no choice but to stay with Optus and with immediate transfer to a new (higher cost) contract.

  6. 0
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    Optus are a bunch of cowboys: incompetent nincompoops. However, other telcos – such as Vodafone – are worse. The sooner there’s a Royal Commission into the entire telecommunications industry, the better for Australia.

  7. 0
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    I’m with Optus for just the last two years, theyre not fantastic but we were with Telstra and they were a nightmare and anyone would look OK compared to them. If you wanted to see what I mean do the Internet search , I hate Telstra.

  8. 0
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    It seems to me that the majority of ‘Telcos’ are all in the same boat with nobody paddling. Pity it won’t sink :-))

    • 0
      0

      oh I THOUGHT THAT TOO BUT I TELL YA WHAT I’VE HAD MY INTERNET WITH TPG, FOR YEARS AND YEARS, AND THEY HAVE BEEN GREAT. I TRIED OPTUS, THEY SUCKED I TRIED USING OPTUS FOR MY MOBILE AND FOUND THEY WERE RIPPING ME OFF. AND I NOT GOING BACK TO TELSTRA CAUSE THEY STILL RIPPING ME OFF, AS I ONLY HAVE THE HOME PHONE WITH THEM. IF I COULD GET RID OF THEM I’D BE HAPPIER STILL, BUT HOW DO YOU USE THE INTERNET WITHOUT CUT YOUR LINE OFF??

  9. 0
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    No, Optus didn’t tell us that. We chose to get the NBN early and the only issue was that Optus wanted to move us to a more expensive plan than the plan we were on. When we said we would go elsewhere they capitulated. Btw, the NBN is much faster than what we had before.

  10. 0
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    I applied early through Optus for the NBN & other than some early hiccoughs everything seems fine. I have been with Optus for about 17 years & twice they gave me free magazine subscriptions & a free iphone. I can’t complain. I know lots of people that have trouble with Telstra with overcharging on accounts etc. I have NEVER had any problem with Optus.

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