ACCC takes action against FDRA for alleged consumer law breaches in Aboriginal communities

8 January 2016

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court against FDRA Pty Ltd (FDRA) (formerly known as Angel digital) and its shareholder and director Jackson Anni (also known as Temitope Ayodele Anifowose) alleging unconscionable conduct, false or misleading conduct, and breaches of the unsolicited consumer agreement provisions of the Australian Consumer Law in the supply of electronic tablet devices.

The ACCC alleges that from September 2014, Mr Anni and sales representatives acting on behalf of FDRA entered into at least 600 agreements with Indigenous consumers in remote Indigenous communities, as well at the Royal Darwin Hospital and associated hostels. The consumers approached at the Royal Darwin Hospital were residents of the hospital or associated hostels, or family and friends visiting.

It is alleged that the FDRA representatives made false and misleading representations that the tablets being supplied were iPads, that they contained thousands of games, and that consumers were required to pay an additional fee for a warranty.

It is also alleged that the FDRA representatives did not comply with the requirements of the unsolicited consumer agreements provisions of the ACL.

The ACCC alleges that by engaging in a system of conduct or pattern of behaviour, and also in respect of its dealings with individual consumers, in all the circumstances FDRA engaged in unconscionable conduct.

The alleged circumstances include the personal circumstances of the consumers such as a poor understanding of English and of commercial transactions, making false or misleading representations, breaches of the unsolicited consumer agreements provisions and obtaining immediate payment in some cases by taking possession of the consumer’s bank card to make withdrawals.

“The ACCC has made both unsolicited selling and Indigenous consumer protection priority areas,” ACCC Acting Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.

“The ACCC alleges that this conduct in remote Indigenous communities and the Royal Darwin Hospital involved some consumers that were particularly vulnerable.”

“The ACCC will continue to take enforcement action to protect consumers in their homes from contraventions of consumer law, particularly where the conduct affects disadvantaged or vulnerable consumers.”

The ACCC is seeking pecuniary penalties, consumer redress orders, an order banning Mr Anni from managing a corporation declarations, injunctions and costs.

The matter is listed for a directions hearing on 25 February at 1.30pm in Darwin before Justice White.

 

Background

The remote Indigenous communities included:

Lajamanu

Kalkarindji

Yarralin

Ngukurr

Jilkmingan

Barunga

Minyerri

Elcho Island

Tiwi Islands

Beswick

Mataranka

Maningrida

The ACCC has produced an Indigenous consumer education video on the issue of door to door sales. The film is part of a pilot consumer protection initiative aimed at educating Indigenous residents of remote communities about their consumer rights.

‘Door to Door Sales’ is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sD-Me93vjnY (link is external)

The ACCC’s guide for consumers Knock! Knock! Who's There? provides information about consumer rights, including asking a sales person to leave, asking for time to consider the offer and detailing the cooling off period.

The ACCC has taken a number of enforcement actions in relation to door to door selling practices in Indigenous communities, including:

 

Release number: 
MR 1/16
Media enquiries: 
Media team - 1300 138 917