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ACCC Takes Big Three Telcos To Court Over NBN Speeds

The ACCC is suing Australia’s big three NBN providers, alleging that Telstra, Optus, and TPG all misled customers on their maximum speeds.

The consumer watchdog has brought three separate cases before the Federal Court, alleging the three telcos promised some FTTN customers they would test line speeds, notify affected users, and offer remedies such as cheaper plans with refunds, but failed to do so.

According to ACCC Chair Rod Sims, this led many consumers to pay more for their NBN plans than they had to.

“Collectively, hundreds of thousands of consumers were allegedly misled by these three big internet providers, Telstra, Optus and TPG, which accepted payments for NBN speeds they could not provide.

“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, adding that the telcos did not appear to have taken these undertakings seriously.

Telstra, Optus, and TPG all made similar promises to consumers on their websites in 2019 and 2020 (below via ACCC, red boxes inserted for emphasis), but the ACCC alleges they did not have adequate systems in place to keep these promises.

Telstra website (red box inserted for emphasis)

Optus terms and conditions on its website (red box inserted for emphasis)

TPG website (red box inserted for emphasis)

Sims noted that customers look for speeds as one of the main features of a new NBN plan, and that it can be “complex, confusing and time-consuming” to figure out details on their own.

“It is important that internet providers like Telstra, Optus and TPG give their customers accurate information so they can make an informed choice about the service that best suits their needs and budget.

“We are pleased that Telstra, Optus and TPG have promised to compensate consumers even before the court case is finalised,” he said.

All three telcos are now contacting affected customers, both current and former, to offer remedies including refunds, alternative plans, and opportunities to leave contracts without penalty.

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