NBN Co has admitted in a court-enforceable undertaking that it misled a select number of Canberra consumers into thinking their services could be disconnected if they did not move to the National Broadband Network (NBN).
Over 20,000 premises connected to iiNet company TransACT’s VCSL2 Network were sent letters incorrectly claiming they could lose their service if they did not move to the NBN, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
These letters, which were sent between January 2019 and 11 July 2019, included statements such as: “If you don’t connect to the NBN access network, you could be left without phone, internet and other important services, including medical, fire and security alarms” and “URGENT: action required to keep your phone and internet services active”.
As a result, NBN Co has agreed to reimburse the early termination costs of those that moved to NBN Co’s services before 10 July 2019 and then back to TransACT, as outlined by the undertaking document.
NBN Co will also publish corrective notices in the Canberra Times, a paid Facebook advertisement and on the NBN Co website, as well as making a contribution towards the costs faced by TransACT related to correcting the misleading communication, the latter of which being priced at $20,000 at a minimum, the undertaking document stated.
Additionally, it will also install safeguards to avoid a similar instance from happening again.
This includes tailoring disconnection notices in the footprint of competing networks that supply over 1,000 services and keeping a voluntary register on its website of competing networks that operate alongside the NBN.
ACCC chair Rod Sims said it was unacceptable for NBN Co to tell consumers of other networks that the NBN is their only option “when that is just not correct”.
“Moving to the NBN is an important decision and it can be confusing,” Simms said. “Consumers should be able to trust that NBN Co is providing them with accurate information.”
“The ACCC will not hesitate to seek high penalties in court against NBN, and other telcos, if we see this type of conduct again.”