Optus has forked over $178,200 in fines to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for ads for its "Max Cap" plans, which the ACCC said were misleading.
The ACCC said that Optus' print and online advertisements for its "Max Cap" plans may have led customers to believe that the most that customers would have to pay per month for the service was the advertised amount (ie, $49) when in fact this was the minimum amount per month for the plan.
"If you advertise a service as a '$49 Max Cap' when $49 is the minimum that consumers have to pay, then you risk breaching the law by misleading consumers about the cost of the service," ACCC acting chair Peter Kell said.
The action comes as the ACCC continues to crack down on advertising for plans by telecommunications companies that it believes to be misleading. Optus, Dodo and TPG have all been caught in the firing line previously by this action, and Kell admitted that the commission has been keeping the companies on their toes.
"The ACCC has been keeping a close watch on the telecommunications industry for a while now to ensure that consumers get accurate information. This is another example of the clear message the ACCC is sending to this industry: get your advertisements right," Kell said in a statement.
Optus said it did not agree with the view of the ACCC, but it agreed to pay the fines and change the name of the plans.
"Despite a difference of opinion, Optus moved to immediately change the 'Max Cap' plan name when the ACCC raised their concerns on a non-admission basis," Optus said in a statement.
A total of 27 infringement notices were issued against Optus with a fine of $6600 for each notice.
Updated at 08:51am, 19 May 2011: added comment from Optus.