The ACCC has initiated court proceedings against Optus, alleging the telco misled some 20,000 customers over the need to quickly jump from its existing HFC network to the NBN.
Optus is accused of making false and misleading representations by writing to its customers between October 2015 and March 2017 and advising it would disconnect their HFC service within a specified time period as the NBN would soon be available in their area.
The ACCC said the timeframes set out by Optus were earlier than the telco was contractually allowed to cancel services.
“We allege that Optus’ misrepresentations put pressure on customers to move to the NBN sooner than they were required to. This is particularly concerning as Optus received a significant financial payment from NBN Co for each customer that moved from its cable network to the NBN,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
The consumer watchdog also accuses Optus of misleading its customers about their options for purchasing an NBN plan.
“Optus created the impression that its customers were required to obtain NBN services from Optus, when they could have chosen to switch to any internet service provider," Sims said.
“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.
“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.”
The ACCC is seeking declarations, injunctions, pecuniary penalties, a publication order, compliance orders and costs.