Monday, 23 July 2018 11:04

ACCC fines MyRepublic for NBN speed claims

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NBN provider MyRepublic has "paid penalties totalling $25,200 following the ACCC issuing two infringement notices for alleged false or misleading representations about its NBN service performance".

Between December 2017 and April 2018, the ACCC said, "MyRepublic marketed its NBN services using statements such as 'up to NBN 100 Speed Tier' and 'NBN 50 Speed Tier' on its website".

"The MyRepublic website contained fine print disclaimers that the ACCC considered were ineffective as they were not prominent and did not provide clear information:.

ACCC commissioner Sarah Court said: "We were concerned that MyRepublic’s use of the NBN speed tiers misled consumers to believe they would get broadband speeds of, or close to, 100Mbps and 50Mbps during all or almost all of the time, when that wasn’t the case.

“NBN speed tiers indicate the maximum performance of a broadband service but a number of factors, including congestion during busy periods, affects the actual speeds consumers will experience.

“When choosing between broadband services, consumers need accurate information about the performance they should expect, particularly during busy periods. We’ve been very clear with broadband providers about this and reference to the NBN speed tiers alone is not sufficient."

A MyRepublic spokesperson sent iTWire a statement, which reads: "MyRepublic has always provided customers with the fastest broadband access speeds available. With multiple NBN access technologies that operate at varying speeds, we acknowledge that speeds may vary further during peak usage times. MyRepublic will continue to make improvements to how we communicate this to customers."

So, what's the background behind this decision?

The ACCC reminds us that it "can issue an infringement notice where it has reasonable grounds to believe a person has contravened certain consumer protection laws".

"The payment of a penalty specified in an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the Australian Consumer Law.

"In August 2017, the ACCC issued its Broadband Speed Claims Industry Guidance which is a best practice guide intended to improve the information and support available to broadband consumers and to promote competition among broadband providers.

"The ACCC also provides information for consumers on what to expect from broadband providers that comply with its guidance.

"The ACCC is also promoting transparency of broadband performance through its Measuring Broadband Australia program which provides consumers with accurate, independent and comparable information about broadband speeds and performance."

Sample of website banners displayed on MyRepublic’s website from at least 1 December 2017 to 17 April 2018:

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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