Two of Australia’s three largest telcos have been issuing refunds to customers, after they failed to tell them the maximum speeds advertised in their internet plan were not attainable.
Optus’ sum is $4.4 million, while Vodafone owner TPG has been handing out $2.1 million for charging customers for internet speeds they couldn’t hit.
In a statement from the ACMA, the regulator said both telcos failed to “suitably notify” tens of thousands of consumers that the maximum speeds advertised in their internet plan were not attainable on the NBN infrastructure available to them.
Optus self-reported this boo-boo to the ACMA back in July 2021. At the time, it said over a two-year period, it had failed to inform more than 34,000 customers that they were not receiving the level of service they had purchased. In October that year, TPG fessed up, too. TPG advised the ACMA that it had failed to provide more than 4,400 customers with the notifications required.
Under ACMA rules, telcos must verify maximum internet speeds when migrating customers to the NBN and notify them when speeds cannot meet those that were originally advertised to them. When telcos cannot deliver the internet speeds advertised in a plan, customers are entitled to move to a cheaper lower speed plan or exit the contract at no cost.
“Optus and TPG were charging these people for internet speeds they could not get,” ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin explained.
In addition to issuing refunds to affected customers, Optus was issued with a remedial direction and TPG offered a court-enforceable undertaking to the ACMA, which was accepted. Optus and TPG both have to commission an independent audit of their relevant compliance systems.
In June 2021, the ACMA issued Telstra with a remedial direction for similar issues.