The Federal Court has found that Optus breached the Trade Practices Act with its advertising of its “Think Bigger” and “Supersonic” internet plans.According to ACCC, Optus said in its advertisements that for a monthly payment, a consumer would receive a headline data allowance of broadband which was then split into peak (midday to midnight) and off-peak (midnight to midday) data allowances.
However, Optus had not sufficiently disclosed that the service would be speed limited to 64kbps once a consumer exceeded their peak data allowance.
“The consequence was that any unused off-peak data would no longer be available at a broadband speed, and as such the consumer would not obtain the headline data allowance of broadband,” said the ACCC.
Justice Perram found Optus’ television advertisements “misleading, in my opinion, seriously so.”
Justice Perram also commented on the recent halt in the television commercials for the “Think Bigger” campaign, saying that he was, “far from convinced either that Optus recent cessation is anything other than opportunistic, or that it signals some newly obtained underlying comprehension of the need to avoid such tricky behaviour in the future.”
Justice Perram rejected Optus’ position in which they said that had not breached the law because any consumer who may have been misled by the advertisements had their misapprehensions corrected through the Optus’ call centre or website before they signed up for a plan.
ACCC Chairman, Graeme Samuel said, “Consumers were told in these ads that they were going to get a certain amount of broadband, and only after you work through confusing and vague disclaimers that you realise that it’s just not the case. Consumers and the ACCC are, frankly, tired of telcos using complex, confusing and deceptive advertising to fool consumers. This should serve as yet another reminder, that if these companies don’t clean up their act, the ACCC will be here to take you to task, and you can expect to be hit with the full force of the law.”