Optus back in court over NBN migration claims

Telco sent misleading claim just days after being hit with a $1.5m fine, the ACCC says

Optus faces new Federal Court proceedings brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) over a misleading communication with its customers.

Optus in May 2018 was ordered to pay a fine after the ACCC took the telco to court over claims it made in marketing material that some of its broadband customers needed to migrate to the NBN or face disconnection in as little as 14 days. Optus cooperated with that investigation and made a joint penalty submission with the ACCC to the court.

The ACCC alleges, however, that just days after the judgement the company sent a misleading email to almost 139,000 of its mobile customers spruiking its NBN services. The email said that customers’ existing broadband would be “disconnected very soon” and that they should “make the switch before it’s too late”.

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

“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,” Court said.

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

Optus has acknowledged its mistake, the telco’s vice president for regulatory and public affairs, Andrew Sheridan, said.

“Optus has apologised to customers who received the mistaken communication and offered a costless exit for those who took out the offer,” the Optus exec said in a statement.

 “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.”

The ACCC said it is seeking “declarations, injunctions, pecuniary penalties, compliance orders and costs”.

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Tags broadbandTelecommunicationsoptusNational Broadband Network (NBN)Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)

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