Thursday, 27 June 2019 15:29

ACCC initiates court action against Optus over NBN disconnection claims Featured

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ACCC initiates court action against Optus over NBN disconnection claims Image JanPietruska, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The competition regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Optus Internet and Optus Mobile, alleging the company misled consumers about the need to move to the NBN or risk being disconnected.

The court action follows the ACCC’s statement on 24 May 2018, that Optus sent an email offering its NBN broadband services to 138,988 of its mobile customers, and advising them that their broadband service would be “disconnected very soon” and encouraging them to “make the switch, before it's too late”.

The ACCC alleges this was a false or misleading claim because, when the email was sent, Optus understood the recipients of the email were already being supplied with NBN-based services by a company other than Optus - and Optus did not have any reasonable basis for asserting they would be disconnected.

On 22 May 2018, following ACCC action, the Federal Court ordered Optus pay penalties of $1.5 million for making misleading representations to customers about their transition from Optus’ HFC network to the NBN.

“Moving to the NBN is an important decision for consumers, and it can also be a confusing process,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.

“The ACCC has had to take action about Optus’ advertising on several previous occasions, and it is concerning that we are again having to take them to court for alleged misleading statements about this issue.

“We are keeping a close eye on this sector and we will continue to take enforcement action where appropriate.”

In a statement issued on Thursday, the ACCC said it was seeking declarations, injunctions, pecuniary penalties, compliance orders and costs.

Optus has now responded to the ACCC's announcement of court action, with Andrew Sheridan, vice-president, Regulatory and Public Affairs, saying, "Optus acknowledges the ACCC’s action today and its mistake.

"Optus has apologised to customers who received the mistaken communication and offered a costless exit for those who took out the offer.

"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."


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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