Lower than promised NBN speeds have claimed their first scalp, with Telstra announcing plans to compensate thousands of its customers.
Telstra said in a statement it is the first telco to act on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) concerns that many customers are not receiving the advertised speeds they have paid for.
“Providing a great customer experience is our number one priority and that includes giving customers as much choice as possible as they connect to an NBN service,” said Vicki Brady, group executive, consumer and small business.
“As it is not possible to accurately determine what speed the NBN can deliver to a customer prior to connection, we have been reviewing the speeds of customers who take up a speed boost on their FTTN or FTTB NBN services after connection.”
She added: “We have been undertaking this review since May 2017 and, where we identify they cannot attain the benefit of the speed boost, we have been contacting them to provide refunds.”
The ABC reported this could mean payouts for as many as 42,000 customers nationally.
In addition to refunding customers for past losses, Ms Brady said Telstra has changed its advertising and marketing to better reflect “the typical speeds a customer can expect, including for the period when most people tend to use the internet”.
ACCC chair Rod Sims said Telstra admitted its conduct was likely in breach of Australian Consumer Law pertaining to false or misleading advertising.
“We are pleased that Telstra proactively reported this serious problem to the ACCC and has co-operated in creating a remediation plan for affected customers,” he said.
“However, we are mindful this is not just a Telstra problem; it is an industry problem where consumers are often not getting the speeds they are paying for.
“We will continue to investigate other retail service providers selling broadband plans over the NBN and take enforcement action where appropriate. As we’ve said previously, we expect RSPs [retail service providers ] to provide consumers with accurate information upfront about the internet speeds they can expect to receive, and then deliver on those promises.”
Telstra’s announcement came just days after NBN Co revealed a shift in focus to better service commercial customers, as complaints of slow speeds and dropouts soared 160 per cent last financial year.