The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings against Patrick OKeeffe and Anstar Holdings Pty Ltd, a Gold Coast based company.

The ACCC has alleged contraventions of sections 52, 53(bb) and 64 of the Trade Practices Act 1974. The ACCC is seeking injunctions and other orders against both respondents.

The ACCC has alleged that both Patrick OKeeffe and Anstar Holdings Pty Ltd have caused invoices to be sent to small businesses throughout Australia claiming payment for unsolicited advertising in the following publications:

  • Union Views;
  • Labour Review;
  • Industrial Health and Safety Report;
  • Environmental Health and Safety Report;
  • The Union Worker; and Workplace Safety Review.

The ACCC has also alleged that employees of Patrick OKeeffe and Anstar Holdings Pty Ltd have misled small businesses by telephoning the business and misrepresenting that the business had previously advertised in one of the publications.

The ACCC is currently warning small business operators to:

  • be careful on any telephone call selling advertising. If the callers claim to be from an organisation check the number in the telephone book and ring them back;
  • ask for proof of the magazines existence, sponsorship and circulation;
  • authorise all advertising in writing and keep records;
  • insist on getting proof of the advertisement;
  • check all incoming invoices carefully;
  • limit the number of staff authorised to place or pay for advertising or invoices; and
  • don't pay for any advertisement or directory entry that was not authorised.