Exetel to compensate heavy downloaders over ‘unfair’ contracts


news Internet service provider Exetel is to compensate consumers over residential broadband contracts that were deemed “unfair” by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

According to the ACCC, in mid-2015, the telco wrote to more than 2,000 residential broadband customers on 12-month fixed-term plans, telling them that they must either change their broadband plan or terminate their Exetel service without penalty. iTnews has reported that the customers were Exetel’s heaviest downloaders.

Exetel apparently relied on a clause in its standard residential broadband agreement which stated that Exetel could vary any part of that agreement at will.

Following an investigation, the ACCC found that the clause was an “unfair contract term” which was likely to contravene the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

The ACCC also found that Exetel’s advertising of its fixed-term plans was “likely to be misleading” since it suggested that consumers would receive the service for the 12-month fixed term, when this was not necessarily the case.

The ACCC said Exetel has cooperated with the investigation and, in response to its concerns, agreed to remove the unfair clause from its standard contract, and refund any extra subscription costs incurred by customers who changed to a new plan or refund activation charges for customers who terminated their Exetel service.

“The Australian Consumer Law provides that unfair contract terms in standard form consumer contracts are void,” Dr Michael Schaper, the ACCC’s Acting Chair, said.

He further explained that the ACCC considers that contract terms which allow a supplier to unilaterally vary the agreement for any reason are likely to be unfair.

“The ACCC will also be writing to other telecommunications providers with similar outdated terms in their consumer agreements, to put them on notice of the ACCC’s concerns and encourage them to review and update their standard agreements,” Schaper said.

Telecoms companies should also be aware that, from November 2016, the law will also protect small businesses from unfair terms in standard form contracts, he warned.

Ads touting the benefits available to consumers under standard agreements, and which contain a term allowing the supplier to vary the contract for any reason, have the potential to mislead consumers about the benefits offered and their rights under the contract, the ACCC said in a statement.

False or misleading representations about the “existence, exclusion or effect” of any condition or right are prohibited by the ACL, and can attract hefty fines of up to $1.1 million for each contravention.


  1. I direct that youtube video of the best 100 movie insults at Exetel.

    Exetel, I will fart in your direction and your mother smells like elderberries.

  2. @Renai: So what plans were these customers actually on? Where they supposed to be “unlimited” or where they just consistently using most the quota they paid for?

    • It varied, many were unlimited but I think the majority were in fact on limited plans. I was on 300 GB/600 GB (peak/offpeak) and I was using a max of about 150/200 each month and I was booted. I like many others was on a plan that was roughly the same cost as an unlimited plan so it’s not like we were getting some kind of bargain.

      If you like you can see the original whirlpool thread here https://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=2411057 (most of the bootings happened on the 10th of June so there aren’t many people reporting getting booted in the first couple of pages)

  3. http://whrl.pl/RejmIv

    ~2Tb a month is ‘normal’ for these types scarily enough! basically the top 1% who probably consume 80+% of the bandwidth.

    Pretty much sounds like Exetel still came out on top here as they still get to ditch most of those leechers (paying resub fees probably a small price to pay especially since you’d think more than a few would have say opted for a contract deal without any re-sub costs probably with TPG).

    • So you’re basing your whole conclusion on a single person who was booted out before the majority of the people involved. Smart.

  4. There’s something else going on other than “heavy usage”.

    See this post with a screenshot of their usage meter on a 500 gig plan – they kicked out people within their usage limits.


    This post from facebook sounds plausible

    This has nothing to do with download and everything to do with the exchanges. With NBN being rolled out expanding current ADSL2 services has stopped. In the past Exetel has forced me to change plans because of cost, there is nothing wrong with that but this time instead of giving us a choice they are just taking our phone lines and internet away, Why? Here is the answer – I have tried to churn/transfer to another ISP but can’t, there are no slots available on the exchanges on both Telstra and Optus. Why not keep the one you already have? Great Question ! Exetel paid Optus for a set of slots and are not giving them back and are now maximizing there profits. How? By charging $30 per month more for the same service.e.g. I am paying $60 for 500GB peak & 500Gb off-peak now Exetel it charging $89 for 1000Gb “any-time” (from Exetel site). What is the end result? There is no slot for me so in 25 days I will have no phone and no internet because Exetel wants to resell my slot for $30 more per month. P.S. In the last 12 months my average download is 300Gb per month my limit is 1000Gb per month. So don’t tell me this is about heavy usage. It’s not.

    • That did seem like a plausible theory at the time, but in reality the majority of people did manage to churn without a problem.

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