Optus will pay $1.5 million in penalties after pressuring customers to move to the national broadband network sooner than required and misleading some customers about NBN service options.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in December launched federal court proceedings against Optus, alleging the telco told about 14,000 of its customers that their services would be disconnected if they did not move to the NBN – but the timeframes were earlier than the telco was allowed to cancel the services.
The ACCC also alleged that Optus misled some of its customers about NBN purchasing options, by creating the impression that they were required to buy services from the telco when they could have chosen any internet service provider.
On Wednesday, the consumer watchdog said Optus had benefited by about $750,000 as a result of the conduct, and said the Federal Court had ordered the telco to pay penalties of $1.5 million for making misleading representations.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said businesses should not make false representations which distort customers’ decision making, particularly when many Australians are moving to the NBN for the first time.
“Optus pressured customers by misrepresenting the time period in which services could be disconnected,” Mr Sims said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Today’s penalty serves as a warning to all businesses that such behaviour will be met with ACCC action.”
Optus has previously admitted to providing some customers with insufficient notice of their options to migrate to the NBN.
The telco has said that when it became aware of customer concerns it suspended all migration activations and reconnected those affected as quickly as possible.
Since the ACCC investigation, Optus has paid $833,000 in compensation to affected customers for the disconnection of their services.