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8700 'misled' Optus customers in line for compensation

AUSTRALIA'S second largest internet provider will be forced to compensate more than 8700 customers after charging them for download speeds they could not possibly receive over the National Broadband Network.

In more than 370 cases, Optus slugged users for the fastest available NBN download speeds, of 100 megabits per second, yet only delivered one quarter of those speeds - the minimum promised under the NBN.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission revealed the latest NBN customer gaffe today after last month forcing Telstra to compensate more than 42,000 of its NBN customers over the same issue.

Yvonne Wallbank with her sons Max, Alex and Nic and dog Phoenix at their house in Cremorne, Sydney. She's not happy with her NBN connection. Picture: John Feder/The Australian
Yvonne Wallbank with her sons Max, Alex and Nic and dog Phoenix at their house in Cremorne, Sydney. She's not happy with her NBN connection. Picture: John Feder/The Australian

But ACCC chairman Rod Sims said Optus' case was particularly egregious as many customers were not just being overcharged by a small margin, but for two speed tiers above what their NBN connection could deliver.

"Worryingly, many affected Optus fibre-to-the-node customers could not even receive the maximum speed of a lower tier plan," he said.

"This is a concerning trend we have seen throughout the industry and we are working to fix this."

More than one in five Optus customers connected to its to its "Boost Max" NBN plan offering 100 megabit per second downloads could only receive half that speed, for example, and a further four per cent of customers - 382 users - could only receive a quarter of that speed or less.

Even 266 users on Optus' 50 megabit-per-pecond NBN plan could only receive half that download speed or less.

An Optus spokesman said the company was working with the ACCC to rectify the issue and would offer remedies to affected customers by March 2.

Optus will say ‘yes’ to compensating more than 8700 customers identified as being overcharged with NBN plans. Picture: AAP Image/Optus
Optus will say ‘yes’ to compensating more than 8700 customers identified as being overcharged with NBN plans. Picture: AAP Image/Optus

"Optus acknowledges that it did not have the appropriate procedures in place to confirm the speed of the NBN service at the time of purchase by affected customers," the spokesman said.

"We apologise to customers who have been affected by this error and are putting a process in place to rectify this issue."

Overcharged Optus customers will be offered refunds, discounted plans, and the option to exit their contract without fees.

Optus will also be forced to check whether new customers can receive the download speeds for which they are being charged within four weeks of connecting to an NBN plan.

An NBN Co technician during the installation of fibre-to-the-building connections in Sydney. Picture: Cole Bennetts/Bloomberg
An NBN Co technician during the installation of fibre-to-the-building connections in Sydney. Picture: Cole Bennetts/Bloomberg

Mr Sims said the new court-enforceable ruling against an Australian internet service provider was another step towards "ensuring that consumers get what they pay for" but warned it may not be the last ruling of its kind.

"We are continuing to investigate other retail service providers selling NBN broadband plans, and will take enforcement action if we consider that they are not delivering on their promises to customers," he said.

Topics:  accc editors picks nbn optus


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