ACCC v Optus
Friday, July 13, 2018
ACCC v Optus – Penalties for Misrepresentations Made to Customers
In the recent case of ACCC v Optus, the court ordered Optus to pay $1.5 million in penalties for misrepresentations made to customers which contravened the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
Between October 2015 and March 2017 Optus sent communications to approximately 14,000 customers stating their telephone and/or internet services would be disconnected unless they acquired the NBN. These statements were found to be false and misleading as Optus did not have the right to disconnect customers from any services in the stated timeframe for using different cable networks. The motivation behind Optus’ communications was a payment scheme where Optus would receive payments from NBN Co Ltd for each customer who made the switch. Optus was estimated to have gained approximately $750,000 from the misrepresentations.
The penalty was agreed upon by the ACCC and Optus prior to the court hearing and was upheld by the judge. In upholding the suggested punishment, the judge balanced the widespread nature of Optus’ misrepresentations with the fact that Optus had already taken substantial steps to remedy the situation.