Optus unfairly pressured thousands of customers to switch to the NBN sooner than required, due to financial incentives being offered to them by NBN Co.
That's according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which has instituted proceedings against the telco in the Federal Court.
The accusations focus on the period between October 2015 and March 2017.
In this time, the ACCC believes Optus wrote to 20,000 customers warning them they would be disconnected from their Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) network within a certain timeframe from when the NBN arrived in their area.
The ACCC alleges that the timeframes for disconnection stated by Optus were earlier than they were contractually allowed to disconnect a customer’s service.
Chairman of the ACCC, Rod Sims, voiced his concern regarding the allegations.
“We allege that Optus’ misrepresentations put pressure on customers to move to the NBN sooner than they were required to,” he said.
“This is particularly concerning as Optus received a significant financial payment from NBN Co for each customer that moved from its cable network to the NBN.”
The ACCC says there are instances of Optus telling customers their services would be disconnected in as little as 30 days.
Further to this, the ACCC also stated that Optus misled some customers regarding their options for purchasing NBN plans, and in the process engaged in anti-competitive conduct.
“Optus created the impression that its customers were required to obtain NBN services from Optus, when they could have chosen to switch to any internet service provider,” said Sims.
“As the NBN rollout continues throughout Australia, people will be making decisions about which provider to go with.
“ISPs must not mislead consumers when competing for business.
“We are keeping a close eye on this sector and will take action where we see wrongdoing.”
Optus has since released a statement in response to the allegations.
“In late 2016, we made the decision to migrate customers off our broadband cable network to the NBN as soon as an area was serviceable.
“During this process, we provided some customers with insufficient notice of their options to migrate.
“As a result, some customers were disconnected before they migrated to the NBN. Optus aims for a seamless experience for customers transitioning to NBN.
“We acknowledge that this process did not deliver on our intent to provide an excellent migration experience.”
This is not the first time the ACCC has caught out Optus for deceiving their customers.
Last December, Optus was forced to refund nearly 9,000 customers following false NBN speed claims between September 2015 and June 2017.
The legal action comes as the ACCC continues its inquiry into the service standards of the NBN, announced late last year.