Source: Reuters
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  • Telstra, Optus and TPG are being investigated by Australia’s consumer watchdog for allegedly misleading customers about NBN maximum speeds
  • ACCC Chair Rod Sims said the alleged broken promises resulted in many consumers paying more for their NBN plans than they needed to
  • The ACCC alleges that service providers did not have appropriate processes in place to carry out the speed checks, notifications, and remedies they promised
  • Telstra self-reported aspects of this behaviour to the ACCC
  • TPG and Telstra apologised to affected consumers while Optus said it was “carefully considering this matter”

Australia’s consumer watchdog is taking Telstra, Optus and TPG to task over allegations they mislead customers over NBN maximum speeds.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) had brought three separate cases before the Federal Court for the aforementioned companies making alleged false or misleading representations in their promotions of some NBN plans.

ACCC claims that the companies promised to test the maximum speed of their Fibre to the Node (FTTN) connections, notify impacted customers of their maximum speed if their line was underperforming, and offer remedies if the maximum speed was less than their plan’s stated speed, but that they failed to do so for many customers.

Telstra, Optus and TPG are also accused of accepting money for NBN plans from consumers who were not provided with the advertised speeds.

ACCC chair Rod Sims said the alleged broken promises resulted in hundreds of thousands of consumers paying more for their NBN plans than they needed to.

“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.

TPG in a statement said it will be “making things right” with impacted customers.

“For the oversight, we are sorry,” a spokesperson said.

The company said two key factors contributed to the issue, firstly a failure by NBN Co to provide timely and accurate speed information and secondly to anomalies in TPG Internet’s legacy processes in place since 2017, and these have been fixed post-merger [with Vodafone]. 

“There was no intention whatsoever by TPG Internet to avoid its obligations and its processes were intended to provide the correct maximum attainable speed information to customers,” the spokesperson said.

Optus said it will carefully consider the matter, and noted speeds can be impacted by issues such as the length and quality of the copper line that connects a customer to the NBN.

Telstra also apologised to impacted consumers and said it is offering remedies and improving processes.

The ACCC alleges that Telstra, Optus, and TPG did not have appropriate processes in place to carry out the speed checks, notifications, and remedies they promised.

Telstra self-reported aspects of this behaviour to the ACCC, and evidence in the ACCC’s Measuring Broadband Australia Reports indicated that consumers were not obtaining the speeds they were paying for.

Telstra, Optus, and TPG are contacting impacted current and past customers to see if they are entitled to a refund and if so, to offer alternative options or the option to cancel their contract without penalty.

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