Telstra, Optus and TPG have all been ordered to pay penalties reaching $33.5 million for making false or misleading representations to consumers regarding NBN internet speeds.
The Federal Court of Australia handed down the fines to the three telcos on Friday after each admitted to the accusations in proceedings from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Telstra will pay $15 million, Optus $13.5 million and TPG $5 million for breaching the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) through misleading statements related to their 50Mbps or 100Mbps fibre to the node (FTTN) plans.
According to the ACCC, all three made statements to customers promising to inform them if the speeds they were paying for could not be reached on their NBN connections with the chance of refunds or cheaper plans.
It’s estimated around 120,000 consumers in total were impacted throughout a 12-month period across 2019 and 2020.
All three agreed they failed to inform customers that the maximum internet speeds were lower than the claim on their purchased plan.
The telcos told the ACCC they have implemented remediation programs and have contacted impacted customers to provide refunds.
ACCC Commissioner Liza Carver said the “significant penalties” and the “seriousness” of breaches by the telcos.
“Some customers may have paid for a 50 or 100 Mbps plan believing their NBN connection could support the higher download speeds, even though they would have been better off paying for a lower speed plan,” Carver said.
In early August last year, the ACCC filed a court action against all three telcos provided court-enforceable undertakings back in 2017, requiring them to check maximum speeds and keep consumers informed of the findings.