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Optus ‘Bill Shock’ Boss Quits


Late in December Russell said that Optus had been “deliberately overcharged their customers for years”

His comments were made at an end of year media party in Sydney, at the time Russell said that Optus had now taken a “really serious” stance to the practise, dubbed “bill shock”, whereby a customer runs up a costly mobile phone bill by using too much data or calls, particularly when roaming overseas.

He told the SMH that he know that if consumers don’t complain Optus will make an extra whopping bit of revenue. 

Kevin Russell

He said “Let’s be crystal clear. As an industry, we know how people use their phones, we know that young people will get their first smartphone and go bananas on it, we know people are going to get hit with a $500 or $600 bill, and we know that if they don’t complain we’ll get an extra whopping bit of revenue,” Mr Russell said.

Today it was announced that he will leave Optus next month in what it says is a planned move.

“Several months ago Kevin told me that he wished to move on to other challenges on completion of this phase, after ensuring an orderly transition that embeds the strategic transformation he has led,” said Paul O’Sullivan, SingTel’s CEO, Group Consumer.

Mr Russell was two years in the role as Chief Executive, Consumer Australia. Mr O’Sullivan will take on Mr Russell’s role when he leaves on March 31.

Last week Telstra has won a Victorian Supreme Court battle against the Optus consumer division run by Russell after they ran what a Judge described as a series of “misleading” online and television ads that claimed there was little difference between the companies’ mobile networks.

In a ruling handed down last week Justice James Elliott sided with Telstra in its claims that Optus misled the public with advertisements that said there was less than 1 per cent difference when it came to the reach of the two telco’s mobile networks.

“Each of the representations was misleading or deceptive, or likely to mislead or deceive,” Justice Elliott said.

“I accept the submission made on behalf of Telstra that these aspects of the advertisement were part of a deliberate advertising strategy that was calculated to benefit Optus’ business.”

The victory means Optus will have to remove the television and online ads. A decision on damages, compensation for Telstra and corrective advertising are being held over to a later date.