Optus fined for misleading customers

7 Feb 2019

Australia’s Federal Court has ordered mobile network operator (MNO) Optus to pay an AUD10 million (USD7 million) fine for its treatment of customers that unknowingly purchased games, ringtones and other digital content via its third-party billing service. The financial penalty has been levied after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in October 2018 confirmed it had commenced proceedings against Optus, alleging the operator had made false or misleading representations to consumers in relation to its third-party billing service, known as ‘Direct Carrier Billing’ (‘DCB’). For its part, the MNO has admitted that it did not properly inform customers that the DCB service was a default setting on their accounts, and that they would be billed directly by Optus for any content bought through the service, even unintentionally. In confirming the fine, the ACCC noted that it was ‘one of the highest imposed by the Court after ACCC action on a consumer matter, and equals the penalty paid by Telstra last year after it admitted to similar conduct’.