A Federal Court order obtained by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission* has effectively closed down a misleading and deceptive mail order scheme originating from the U.K. which used a Hobart based mail order firm and post box.

Acting on a flood of complaints received from consumers Australia-wide, the ACCC moved against the Australian end of the scheme which promises well-known European goods for as little as $39.95.

The goods supposedly on offer from the European Appliance Factory Outlet (EAFO) include Miele dishwashers, Sony stereo/CD component centres, Sharp microwave ovens, La Cuisine food processors and GrillMaster barbecues. The Commission claimed that only the last two items were made available for distribution and their estimated combined value was aproximately $20. The EAFO offers originated in the UK and was operated by a Bahamas based company, International Direct Mail Order Corporation.

On 28 November, the Commission obtained an ex-parte interim order restraining Hobart based mail order firm, Garmer Limited and its General Manager, Ian McKay, from dealing with the mail received at the Hobart post office box and freezing any EAFO-related bank accounts.

Justice Northrop of the Federal Court of Australia has issued an order permanently restraining Garmer Limited and Ian McKay from taking any action to fulfil orders for goods solicited by the UK offer. The Court also ordered the respondents to refund all monies they received from consumers and to pay $5,000 towards the Commission's costs. The respondents consented to the orders.

Commenting on the decision, ACCC Chairman, Professor Allan Fels, said the Commission had moved swiftly in this case, taking less than three weeks from initial complaints to the court-enforced resolution.

"The ACCC will work in the interests of all consumers - be they individuals being preyed upon by unscrupulous persons or companies who are victims of unfair business practices."