Competition regulator the ACCC has begun legal action against Optus, alleging it misled around 20,000 customers over two years about the need to move quickly from its existing HFC network to the NBN.
The ACCC alleges that between October 2015 and March 2017, Optus made false and misleading representations by writing to customers saying it would disconnect their HFC service soon because the NBN was coming to their area.
But the threatened shutdown date earlier than Optus was contractually allowed to cancel the service.
Earlier this week Optus announced it was offering refunds, discounts and contract waivers to 8700 NBN customers for misleading them over internet speeds.
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said Optus created the impression its customers had to obtain the NBN them, when it could have been any ISP.
His organisation will also allege that between October 2015 and September 2016, Optus misled some customers about their options for NBN plans.
“We allege that Optus’ misrepresentations put pressure on customers to move to the NBN sooner than they were required to,” he said.
“This is particularly concerning as Optus received a significant financial payment from NBN Co for each customer that moved from its cable network to the NBN,”
“We are also concerned that Optus cut off some of its customers’ internet services when it had no contractual right to do so. Telephone and internet are essential utilities and it is unacceptable for Optus to treat its customers this way,” Sims said.
Optus is Australia’s third largest NBN retailer by market share.
The ACCC is seeking declarations, injunctions, pecuniary penalties, a publication order, compliance orders and costs.