26 September 2023

Telcos make lines to court over NBN claims

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Telstra, Optus and TPG for allegedly making false or misleading representations in their promotions of some 50Mbps and 100Mbps NBN plans.

Chair of the ACCC, Rod Sims said the Commission alleged that the companies each promised to tell consumers within a specific or reasonable timeframe if the speed they were paying for could not be reached on their Fibre to the Node (FTTN) connection.

“They also promised to offer them a cheaper plan with a refund if that was the case,” Mr Sims said.

“Instead, we allege, they failed to do these things and, as a result, many consumers paid more for their NBN plans than they needed to,” he said.

“Collectively, hundreds of thousands of consumers were allegedly misled by these three big internet providers, Telstra, Optus and TPG, which accepted payments for NBN speeds they could not provide.”

Mr Sims said the ACCC also alleged the companies wrongly accepted payments from certain customers for NBN plans when they were not provided with the promised speeds.

“What makes this behaviour even more concerning is that Telstra, Optus and TPG were well aware of these issues and had earlier given undertakings to the ACCC to provide remedies to consumers who purchased NBN plans with speeds that couldn’t be delivered,” he said.

“We are very disappointed that these companies do not seem to have taken seriously the undertakings they gave to the ACCC.”

The Chair said the allegedly false and misleading statements were made on the companies’ websites and in emails to consumers from at least 1 April 2019 to 30 April 2020 by Telstra and TPG, and at least 1 January 2019 and 31 December 2019 by Optus.

Mr Sims said the Commission alleged that Telstra, Optus and TPG did not have adequate systems in place to implement the promised speed checks, notifications or remedies.

He said the investigation was prompted both by Telstra self-reporting elements of the conduct to the ACCC and by information in the Commission’s Measuring Broadband Australia Reports which indicated consumers were not receiving the speeds they were paying for.

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