ACCC takes Optus to court for ‘misleading’ customers on NBN switchover

The consumer watchdog has issued court proceedings in the Federal Court against Optus alleging the telecommunications giant made “false and misleading” claims to its customers, to force them onto the NBN by suggesting it would be disconnecting them from its network earlier than it was legally allowed to.

Optus receives a fee for each customer who switches from its previous cable service to the new NBN offering.

Rod Sims, chairman of the ACCC, said in a statement: “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.”

The ACCC has also alleged Optus “misled” some of its customers by implying they had to purchase NBN plans through Optus rather than any internet service provider.

“We are also concerned that Optus cut off some of its customers’ internet services when it had no contractual right to do so,” said Sims.

“Telephone and internet are essential utilities and it is unacceptable for Optus to treat its customers this way.

“ISPs must not mislead consumers when competing for business,” Sims added

Sims warned the ACCC would be “keeping a close eye” on all internet providers during the rollout of the NBN across Australia.

An Optus spokesperson, said in a statement to Mumbrella: “Optus is in the process of transforming its retail fixed broadband business from being an infrastructure provider to a services reseller. In late 2016, we made the decision to migrate customers off our broadband cable network to the NBN as soon as an area was serviceable.

“During this process, we provided some customers with insufficient notice of their options to migrate. As a result, some customers were disconnected before they migrated to the NBN.

“We acknowledge that this process did not deliver on our intent to provide an excellent migration experience.

“When we became aware of customer concerns, we suspended all migration activations and reconnected affected customer as quickly as possible. We also compensated customers who had been disconnected without sufficient notice.”


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