The Federal Court has handed down a $1.5 million fine to Optus for making misleading representations to customers about their transition to the NBN from its Optus HFC network.
The ACCC filed court proceedings against Optus to court in December last year. It accused the telco of misleading its customers by writing to them 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. Optus was also accused of wrongly telling customers they had to sign up to Optus’ NBN services, when they could have chosen any ISP.
The watchdog added that Optus benefitted by its poor conduct to the tune of $750,000.
“Optus pressured customers by misrepresenting the time period in which services could be disconnected,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
“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.”
“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 investigation commenced, Optus has paid $833,000 in compensation to affected customers for the disconnection of their services.
The remedy costs also follow Optus compensating 8700 customers who were misled about maximum achievable speeds on certain NBN plans.