FDRA Pty Ltd (FDRA) (formerly known as Angel Digital) and its director Mr Jackson Anni have given undertakings to the Federal Court not to enter any Indigenous community in Australia or the Royal Darwin Hospital and its associated hostels to sell any goods or services for a period of 5 years, following action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
In December 2015, the ACCC brought proceedings in the Federal Court alleging that Mr Anni and FDRA engaged in unconscionable conduct, misleading and deceptive conduct and contraventions of the unsolicited selling provisions of the Australian Consumer Law in the sale of electronic tablets and related extras in Indigenous communities and at the Royal Darwin Hospital and its associated hostels.
“Indigenous consumer protection is an enduring priority for the ACCC and we took this action to protect the rights of Indigenous consumers under that Australian Consumer Law,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“The undertakings to the Federal Court provide a high level of protection to Indigenous consumers going forward and serve as a warning to other traders that they must comply with the Australian Consumer Law wherever they are trading, including Indigenous communities."
“We encourage Indigenous consumers to contact the ACCC or the police if they are concerned about the conduct of traders operating in their communities,” Mr Sims said.
In its proceedings, the ACCC had alleged 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 its associated hostels.
It was alleged that the FDRA representatives did not comply with requirements for unsolicited consumer agreements and 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.
The ACCC also alleged that FDRA had engaged in unconscionable conduct in circumstances where some consumers had a poor understanding of English and of commercial transactions and where the business used false or misleading representations and failed to comply with the unsolicited consumer agreements provisions.
The undertakings, which were made to the Federal Court and are enforceable, also require Mr Anni and FDRA to:
- cease accepting payments and automatic deductions in relation to goods or services supplied within 7 days of executing the undertaking
- only sell electronic tablets to any Australian consumer that first approach them, provide a 10 day cooling off period (including not taking payment or supplying goods)
- have written agreements with all the goods or services it sells to every consumer, irrespective of whether they are unsolicited consumer agreements and,
- provide $20,000 for consumer redress, to be distributed by the ACCC.
The undertakings have been given without admissions. On the basis of these undertakings the ACCC agreed to discontinue its proceedings against FDRA and Mr Anni.
ACCC Indigenous infoline: 1300 303 143.
Earlier this year, the ACCC together with Queensland Office of Fair Trading and the Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network unveiled roadside signage designed to minimise consumer harm from unlawful door-to-door trade in the far north Queensland Indigenous community of Wujal Wujal. Its aim was to remind door-to-door traders they have legal obligations to consumers and can’t approach houses displaying do-not-knock notices. It is also hoped that the signage helps to empower community residents to understand and assert their rights under the Australian Consumer Law.
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