By Claire Reilly

SYDNEY, NSW: Optus has been slammed for deceiving customers over the nature its “Max Cap” plan and has been fined $178,200, according to an ACCC report released today.

Singtel Optus was forced to pay 27 infringement notices, totalling $178,200, because it “made false or misleading representations about the price of its services and engaged in conduct that was likely to mislead consumers about the nature and characteristics of its services”, said an ACCC spokesperson.

ACCC acting chairman Peter Kell said the Optus “$49 Max Cap” plan, which was advertised in print and online throughout July and August 2010, was misleading.

“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," said Mr Kell. He added, "Claims that a service allows consumers to call 'anyone' are likely to be misleading if the reality is that some types of calls are excluded.”

The ACCC announced that the 27 infringement notices ($6,600 for each fine) were appropriate considering the nature of the Max Cap advertisements and the number that were published.

This latest notice follows court action taken out by the ACCC against Optus last year, following the release of Optus’ “Think Bigger” and “Supersonic” campaigns.

"The ACCC has been keeping a close watch on the telecommunications industry for a while now to ensure that consumers get accurate information,” said Mr Kell. “This is another example of the clear message the ACCC is sending to this industry: get your advertisements right."