Optus to fork out $6.4m after ACCC court action over NBN marketing

Pays price for misleading NBN migration claims

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Optus will pay a $6.4 million fine for making misleading claims about migration to the National Broadband Network (NBN).

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced in June that it would take Federal Court action after the telco sent an email to some of its mobile customers calling for them to migrate to the NBN because their existing broadband services would be “disconnected very soon,”  telling them that they should “make the switch before it’s too late”.

The marketing email was sent to 139,000 mobile customers just days after Optus was hit, in May 2018, with a $1.5 million fine for making misrepresentations to almost 15,000 of its cable Internet customers about the NBN migration process.

The ACCC alleged that the email was misleading because Optus knew that other telcos were supplying the customers with broadband services and that there was no “reasonable basis” for the company claiming that those customers faced disconnection.

Optus previously acknowledged its mistake with the email and made a joint penalty submission to the court over.

“Optus has apologised to customers who received the mistaken communication and offered a costless exit for those who took out the offer,” Optus vice president for regulatory and public affairs, Andrew Sheridan, said in June.

“In October 2018, Optus committed to improving customer experience and customer service across our business and we continue to devote significant energy and resources to address issues like this and make the necessary changes and improvements so we can deliver great service to all our customers.”

“As the NBN rollout nears completion, consumers around Australia are making decisions about whether and when to move onto the NBN, and what services are best for them,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said in a statement released today by the consumer watchdog.

“The industry should be helping consumers during this process, not providing them with misleading information. We are continuing to watch this area closely.”

In September, Optus detailed its ‘NBN champion’ program, which is part of an effort to make it easier to migrate to the new network.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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