Investigation finds telemarketers pressuring consumers to sign up to NBN

Elderly adult holding telephone to ear

Threats of being disconnected from phone and internet services, loss of phone numbers, and inaccurate information about NBN plans are issues highlighted in the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s latest report: “Misleading telemarketing of NBN services” published Thursday 1 August, 2019.

Between January and December 2018, residential
consumers and small businesses made 1,729 complaints to the Telecommunications
Industry Ombudsman about misleading conduct involving services delivered over
the NBN.

The investigation into
misleading telemarketing practices found high pressure sales tactics are being
used to commit consumers and small businesses to phone and internet contracts
they don’t want, don’t need, or can’t afford. The impact of these tactics is
particularly felt by some older consumers who don’t use the internet at home.

In publishing the report,
Ombudsman Judi Jones said, “Consumers are being told information about moving
to the NBN that is simply not true and puts them at a disadvantage. This is
concerning behaviour from a small group of phone and internet providers and
should stop. In some cases we have shared information about this issue with the
relevant regulators so they can consider further action.

“Moving to the NBN is not automatic, and consumers need to know they can make a measured and informed decision about which NBN provider is right for them. If the consumer is feeling pressured by a telemarketer, it is fine to hang up. If they find themselves signed up to a contract they don’t want or need, and can’t fix the issue with the provider, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman can help.”
Ms Jones continued: “I welcome the advice from the industry body, Communications Alliance, that it is working with the regulator to address aspects of this issue.”

What consumers should do to manage a cold call from a telemarketer about moving to the NBN:

  • Check who the telemarketer is working for. Do this
    early in the call and hang up if the telemarketer is not clear.
  • Check whether you are signing up for a new plan on the old network, or on the NBN. If your area is not ready for the NBN there may be no need to transfer just yet. Go to NBN Co’s website nbnco.com.au to find out if your area is ready to connect to the NBN.
  • Take your time to thoroughly understand the details
    of the new phone or internet plan you are considering before agreeing to a new
    contract or plan. Ask for a copy of the plan on offer, including a Key Facts
    Sheet.
  • Take your time to consider the offer. Do your own
    research and compare plans to decide which plan suits you best. Don’t reveal
    any personal information before you’re ready to sign up for a new plan.
  • Check the disconnection date for your existing
    phone and internet service by contacting your current provider. Check you have
    received a letter from your current provider or NBN Co about a disconnection
    date.
  • Know your rights about changing your mind. If
    you’ve been cold called by a telemarketer, in most cases you can cancel the
    contract within 10 business days.

Read the full report here