Optus fined for deceiving customers
OPTUS will have to cough up $1.5 million for misleading customers about their National Broadbank Network service options.
Australia's second largest internet provider was delivered the fine by the Federal Court after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission launched legal action in December last year.
The court found Optus told about 14,000 customers that their services would be disconnected if they did not move to the NBN, in as little as 30 days in some instances.
There were also cases where the telco deceived customers by telling them they had to sign up to Optus' NBN services, when they could have chosen any internet service provider.
It was found Optus reaped about $750,000 from the misleading activity, which lasted from October 2015 to March 2017.
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims condemned the deceitful act.
"Businesses should not make false representations which distort customers' decision making. This is particularly important when many Australians are moving to the NBN for the first time," Mr Sims said
"It is illegal for businesses to mislead their customers and create a false impression through their communications. Today's penalty serves as a warning to all businesses that such behaviour will be met with ACCC action."
Since the ACCC investigation commenced, Optus has paid $833,000 in compensation to affected customers for the disconnection of their services.
Last year, Optus was forced to compensate more than 8700 customers after charging them for download speeds they could not receive over the NBN.
Customers connected to it's "Boost Max" plan that offered speeds of 100 megabits-per-second could only receive half that speed, while some users on Optus' 50 megabit-per-second plan were found to have clocked half that speed or less.
At the time, Mr Sims said the telco's behaviour was shocking because customers were being charged two speed tiers above what their connection could deliver.
"This is very bad behaviour by the retailers. They should have been warning their customers. They, more importantly, should have been checking and working out whether they were selling something ... they couldn't deliver," Mr Sims said.