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Optus fined $6.4 million for lying to customers

Melbourne, Australia - August 6, 2015: A woman walks past an Optus store on Bourke St. Optus is the second largest telecommunications company in Australia.

Major telco Optus will have to cough up $6.4 million in fines to the Federal Court for making misleading claims that customers would be disconnected from their internet if they didn’t switch to Optus’ NBN.

According to a statement by the competition watchdog, Optus emailed nearly 140,000 of their mobile customers saying their existing broadband services – which were provided by competitors of Optus – would be “disconnected very soon”.

This email urged customers to “make the switch, before it’s too late” and encouraged customers to change to Optus NBN Broadband.

“We took this case against Optus because we were concerned its emails created a false sense of urgency for consumers and may have discouraged them from shopping around for the best deal available,” said ACCC chair Rod Sims.

The ACCC instituted proceedings against Optus in June this year.

But it’s also not Optus’ first rodeo in Federal Court: last year, the major telco was ordered to pay $1.5 million for making similar claims to its own customers on the HCF network.

“Optus pressured customers by misrepresenting the time period in which services could be disconnected,” Sims said at the time.

“It is illegal for businesses to mislead their customers and create a false impression through their communications.”

Today, Sims said the competition watchdog was concerned about Optus’ track record in lying to customers about the NBN.

“We expect that this $6.4 million penalty will serve as a warning to Optus and other telcos that they must not mislead consumers about their choices when the NBN is being rolled out.”

Optus is the second-largest telco operator in Australia after Telstra.

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