Hey Telcos, lift your game and stop lying!

Optus have been served a Federal Court injunction preventing them from doing further misleading advertising. Optus is one of the worst in the sneaky behaviour department, with insane amounts of fine print in every piece of marketing they do. Have a look at this quick analysis of their fine print I did a while back, and a quick check shows it's still pretty accurate. Optus aren't, however, alone in this. All telcos have whole departments of people trying to find sneaky ways to legally say one thing when they mean another, to change plans so prospective customers can't compare them with competitors' plans and generally shonky tactics.

Here's a challenge for you, telco marketing people: become the only telco with a "no fine print" rule. Make a big thing of it. Sure, you'll certainly end up with some kind of formal contract, but start with your advertising, marketing and web site. Get a culture where the test becomes "would an ordinary, non-telco employee get the truth from reading this".

I think a telco taking this approach would have a genuine advantage in the marketplace. A significant proportion of the market are sick of lying, sneaky telcos and just want straightforward propositions.

Now I hear you say it's too hard, the ACCC requires us to have all these weasel words and fine print.  I call bullshit.  I've worked on copy writing for telcos, and it's possible to avoid funny symbols pointing to fine print. First up, you have to tell the truth. Difficult, I know, but doable.  Next up you need to find someone in your legal team who can handle being challenged on their calls.  Lawyers are there to give you advice on the legal risk of what you're doing, not lay down what you can and can't say. Push the envelope with them, force them to come up with words you can use that are true and won't get you sued.  It's hard work, but it's actually quite fun!

So how about it Australian telcos?  Is Australia ready for a no-bullshit telco?

ObDisclaimer: I am a contractor for Telstra, though I have barely anything to do with product management or product marketing.  I'm just the dude who collects and crunches the web numbers. My views are my own, not my employers' views.