Optus will refund customers over slow NBN speeds

Alex Kidman 11 December 2017 NEWS

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If you paid for Optus NBN speed you couldn't get, you may be entitled to your money back.

Customer dissatisfaction with the NBN has led to many ad-hoc complaints, but it's only been relatively recently, and especially since some ISPs have started advertising typical NBN speeds in line with the ACCC's guidelines that we've seen more realistic broadband speed advertising.

That has still left some customers paying for line speeds that they may never have been able to achieve, and that's something the ACCC takes a dim view of. Telstra has already committed to providing refunds for customers sold speeds they couldn't get, and now Optus has committed to providing refunds for more than 8,700 customers who were sold speeds that their FTTN or FTTB connections could not maintain.

According to the ACCC's release on the matter, 5,430 (48%) of Optus FTTN consumers on a 100/40 Mbps plan could not receive 100/40 Mbps, and 2,337 (21%) of those consumers could not receive 50/20 Mbps connections either. 1,519 (26%) of Optus FTTN consumers on a 50/20 Mbps plans could not receive 50/20 Mbps, and 1,381 (3%) of Optus FTTN consumers on a 25/5 Mbps plan could not receive 25/5 Mbps.

Here's how the numbers break down across technology types:

FTTN Speed Plan Number of customers Less than 100/40Mbps Less than 50/20Mbps Less than 25/5/Mbps Less than 12/1Mbps
100/40 Plan 11,326 5,430 (48%) 2,337 (21%) 372 (3%) 10 (<1%)
50/20 Plan 5,856 1,519 (26%) 253 (4%) 13 (<1%)
25/5 Plan 40,503 1,381 (3%) 50 (<1%)
12/1 Plan 32,038 26 (<1%)

And then for Optus FTTB customers:

FTTB Speed Plan Number of customers Less than 100/40Mbps Less than 50/20Mbps Less than 25/5/Mbps Less than 12/1Mbps
100/40 Plan 1,406 248 (18%) 116 (8%) 47 (3%) 1 (<1%)
50/20 Plan 659 99 (15%) 34 (5%) 0 (0%)
25/5 Plan 4,481 83 (2%) 0 (0%)
12/1 Plan 4,082 3 (<1%)

Data source: ACCC release

Optus has admitted that it most likely contravened Australian Consumer Law in this matter, and has undertaken to contact all affected customers by 2 March 2018 to discuss remedies, including refunds, speed plan changes and contract exits without penalty where applicable or desirable by the customer.

The one caveat there is that customers who purchased an NBN broadband only plan will be able to move to lower speed tiers, but this will not be an option for customers who opted for an Optus bundle plan.

"Affected customers should carefully consider the remedies Optus is offering them to assess which best suits their needs. In some cases, consumers may consider it preferable to simply exit their contract with a refund rather than accept a service that does not meet their needs," said ACCC chair Rod Sims.

Optus' undertaking with the ACCC also obligates it to contact customers within four weeks of connecting a new NBN plan to ensure that they are able to get the speeds they've paid for.

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