Trustworthiness of telecoms (it is a sarcasm!)

 How customers can trust any information and services provided by telecoms? This is the case of Optus in Australia. However, it likely represents “tip of an iceberg” as the news refers to a similar behavior of Telstra.

In earlier post I wrote about misleading information about 5G antennas being installed in Sydney. Today, is a news about another failure of telecoms that happily mislead customers for profit…

This is the news re-posted directly from the ‘telecompaper‘ [emphasis added DL].

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Optus to pay AUD 10 mln penalty for misleading customers over digital purchases

Wednesday 6 February 2019 | 06:45 CET | News

Australia’s Federal Court has ordered Optus pay an AUD 10 million penalty for its treatment of customers who unknowingly purchased games, ringtones and other digital content through its third-party billing service, following action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Optus admitted that the company misled consumers and breached the ASIC Act when it billed customers for third party-produced content which they mistakenly bought or subscribed to through its direct carrier billing (DCB) service.

According to the ACCC, the AUD 10 million penalty is one of the highest imposed by the court after ACCC action on a consumer matter, and equals the penalty paid by Telstra in 2018, after it admitted to similar conduct.

Optus 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. Optus, which earned commissions on items sold through the DCB service, also admitted that it knew from at least April 2014 that many customers were being billed for DCB content they had mistakenly or unknowingly signed up for.

The DCB service allowed a purchase or subscription to be confirmed and charged to a customer’s bill after just one or two clicks on a web browser. Despite receiving over 600,000 enquiries about the service, Optus failed to put in place appropriate identity verification safeguards, and referred customers who sought to query DCB service charges to third parties, the ACCC added. Many customers then encountered significant difficulties in cancelling the purchases and obtain refunds from the third parties.

About 240,000 Optus customers have so far been refunded. The ACCC understands Optus has paid about AUD 8 million in refunds and third party providers another AUD 13 million. Optus has committed to contacting potentially impacted customers who complained about the services and have not already received a refund, as well as those customers who Optus identifies as having been incorrectly charged.

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