The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against Adata Pty Ltd and Adata (Vic) Pty Ltd (together, Adata), alleging that Adata has breached the unsolicited consumer agreement provisions of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
The allegations relate to Adata’s supply of end of year individual tax return services to Indigenous consumers receiving Centrelink payments in remote communities in the NT and WA. It is also alleged that Adata’s sole director, Wayne Wright, was knowingly concerned in, or a party to, the conduct of Adata.
The ACCC alleges that Adata breached the unsolicited consumer agreement provisions of the ACL by:
- receiving payments from consumers within the 10 business day cooling off period;
- failing to inform consumers of their termination rights;
- failing to provide consumers with an Agreement Document;
- failing to use an Agreement Document which complies with the ACL; and
- calling on consumers on a Sunday.
The ACCC is seeking declarations, injunctions, refunds for affected consumers, and costs.
“Both unsolicited selling and Indigenous consumer protection are priority areas for the ACCC,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“The ACCC alleges that Adata’s conduct in remote Indigenous communities 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 Court will advise the parties about the timing of the first Directions Hearing shortly.
The ACCC launched an Indigenous education video on the issue of door to door sales in May 2013. 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
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, including:
- Titan Marketing Pty Ltd ordered to pay total penalties of $750,000 for conduct including illegal door-to-door selling practices in Indigenous communities in Far North Queensland and the Northern Territory
- AGL Sales Pty Ltd and AGL South Australia Pty Ltd paying a combined penalty of $1.555 million for illegal door-to-door selling practices
- Neighbourhood Energy Pty Ltd and Australian Green Credits Pty Ltd paying a combined penalty of $1 million for illegal door-to-door selling practices
- Australian Power & Gas Company Limited (APG) paying a penalty of $1.1 million for illegal door-to-door selling practices
- EnergyAustralia Pty Ltd (EnergyAustralia) paying a penalty of $1.2 million for unlawful door-to-door selling practices