Vocus has been ordered by the Federal Court to pay $2.5 million in penalties for making misleading claims about their NBN broadband speeds.
The fines were handed down to Vocus’ consumer brands, with Dodo Services ordered to pay $1.5 million and Primus Telecommunications Services (iPrimus) ordered to pay $1 million.
The findings were a result of an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), where Vocus admitted that the ‘typical evening speed’ claims by the two brands made between March 2018 and April 2019 were misleading because they were not based on an appropriate testing methodology.
“Accurate information about broadband speeds, particularly during the busy period when consumers are most likely to use their services, is essential for consumers to be able to compare broadband offers and pick the best service for their needs,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.
“The ACCC brought this case because we were concerned that the methodology which the Vocus Group used as the basis for its speed claims cherry-picked only the fastest speeds its network could deliver, and ignored the slower speeds many of its customers experienced.
“These misleading speed claims meant consumers could not accurately compare different offerings and make an informed choice about their broadband provider.”
The ACCC took Vocus to court in June 2020, alleging that its Dodo and iPrimus brands made false or misleading claims about the NBN broadband speeds their customers could achieve during busy evening hours by using a “fundamentally flawed”, internally-developed testing methodology.
“Despite clear ACCC guidance on making broadband speed claims, Vocus Group used a flawed methodology which was inconsistent with that guidance, and misled consumers about the speeds of its plans,” Sims said.
In the ruling, Justice Murphy said Vocus “chose not to adopt the methodology proposed as industry best practice by the ACCC and instead developed and applied the Vocus Methodology, which as it eventuated had a number of deficiencies” and said it was material to the fine imposed.