Optus in Court: Ads prompted “Supersonic” broadband plan research

Optus in Court: Ads prompted “Supersonic” broadband plan research

In the Optus vs ACCC Court case, the telco argues the alleged misleading advertisements actually led consumers to research the plans in question

Optus has claimed information provided on its website adequately informs potential customers of the dramatically reduced speeds once the download limit is exceeded in its plans in a bid to prove its “supersonic” broadband ads were not misleading.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has taken Optus to the Federal Court over the telco’s “Supersonic” and “Think Bigger” broadband plans. They were marketed as providing ultra fast speeds but television, print, billboard and Internet advertisements failed to state once download limit was exceeded speeds could be capped to as low as 64kbps, according to the consumer watchdog

The ACCC claims 64kbps is “well below broadband”, let alone “supersonic” broadband.

The Federal Court is assessing today what evidence will be submitted.

The ACCC took aim at Optus’ attempt to submit documentations on the amount of Web traffic it received on its “Supersonic” plans information webpages.

“What it purports to show is the total hits on the Superspeed tab [on the Optus website],” ACCC barrister, Neil Williams SC, said. “Our objection is these are aggregate figures. They don’t show how long users spent on the page... The figures don’t show the breakdown of how long people spend on the pages.”

Optus' barrister argued the information is vital to highlight the allegedly misleading ads bring consumers to visit the telco’s website to obtain more information on the Supersonic plans. Therefore the case should be viewed in the wider context of the additional material which is adequate in informing consumers of capped broadband speeds.

Presiding Judge, Justice Perram, acknowledged if the number of visitors to the webpages is significant it could well be a valid piece of evidence. According to Optus, its "Think Bigger" webpage garnered more than 100,000 while its "Supersonic" page received around 63,000 hits.

Optus is also keen to submit details of customers visiting various sales channels such as Optus retail outlets and phone sales lines to show the ads directed consumers to seek out more information about the plans from the telco.

The telco does not, however, want to submit figures for overall visits to its website for competitive reasons.

The case continues.

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Tags optusAustralian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)SuperspeedThink Bigger


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