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NBN reseller Activ8me fined $250K over misleading ads

Falsely claimed customers could access 100Mbps for $59.95 a month

Telecommunications provider Activ8me has been fined for a second time in a year for making inflated claims about its internet service.

The Federal Court fined the company $250,000 after it admitted running a series of "false or misleading" ads about the costs and speeds of its Opticomm fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) packages.

Activ8me, the trading name of Australian Private Network, was also ordered to refund set-up fees and allow affected customers to exit or switch plans without charge.

The National Broadband Network (NBN) reseller was originally taken to court by the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) in December last year after sending a trio of direct mail ads to 81,000 consumers between June and November.

The mailed flyers, which accompanied an online campaign of five banner ads, claimed to offer 100Mbps for $59.95 a month with no set-up fee.

However, the 100Mbps plan was in fact $89.95 per month, while the advertised $59.95 plan only offered speeds of 12/1Mbps. Meanwhile, a set-up fee of $99.95 applied if the consumer did not sign up to a 12-month plan.

The company was also said to have made other false or misleading claims about the service’s price, inclusion of ‘unlimited’ data, speed and total minimum costs in breach of Australian Consumer Law.

A total of 793 customers signed up to Activ8me’s Opticomm network FTTP services during the ads' running period.

“The misleading representations by Activ8me were blatantly wrong and misled hundreds of customers into signing up to internet services which were at a different price or speed than they expected,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.

As a result of the ruling Activ8me will implement a consumer law compliance program and issue a corrective notice to customers, the ACCC said.

Last March, the provider was ordered to pay $12,600 for misleadingly claiming it was named "Australia’s #1 Sky Muster provider by the ACCC” on its website.

That same month, Vocus Group subsidiaries, Dodo, iPrimus, and M2 Commander had to provide compensation to customers over National Broadband Network (NBN) services speed claims, following an ACCC investigation.

Also in March, TPG subsidiaries, Internode and iiNet, were ordered compensate customers for not reaching internet speeds as promised in their NBN contracts with the providers.

Two months later, Optus was fined $1.5 million after telling 14,000 customers their services would be cut if they did not move to the NBN, while MyRepublic was also ordered to pay $25,200 for its own misleading NBN claims.