Telstra to face ACCC charges

Australia's competition watchdog has initiated legal proceedings against Telstra for alleged misleading and deceptiveconduct concerning customers of the failed telco One.Tel.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman, Professor Allan Fels, said the ACCC would take action inthe Federal Court, claiming that Telstra call centre staff made incorrect statements about early termination feespayable by One.Tel Next Generation mobile phone customers.

The ACCC wrote to Telstra on Friday but Professor Fels said that as late as yesterday, Telstra staff were stillproviding the incorrect information to One.Tel customers.

One.Tel's Next Generation network has 200,000 customers.

"The ACCC is alleging that consumers were advised by Telstra representatives, as late as yesterday, that if theytransferred their mobile phone service to any mobile phone service provider other than Telstra, or did not transferto Telstra before a certain date, that One.Tel administrators may seek termination fees," Professor Fels said.

"In fact, the One.Tel administrators turned off the Next Generation mobile phone network on June 9 2001.

"It is the view of the ACCC that no contract termination fees can apply to customers who transfer to any otherservice provider after One.Tel withdrew its service. Clearly the customer must not incur a penalty when it is thebusiness that stopped providing its services."

The ACCC is seeking an injunction preventing Telstra from making the allegedly misleading statements as well asnewspaper ads correcting those statements and compensation for customers.

The matter has been scheduled to be heard in the Federal Court tomorrow.

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