One of Australia's major publishers of street directories, Universal Press Pty Ltd, will offer refunds to advertisers following an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission into allegations that the company misrepresented the extent of distribution of its Tasmanian publications.

In mid-1995 Universal Press Pty Ltd published three regional UBD Community Business and Street Directories covering Tasmania, via its subsidiary Universal Business Directories Pty Ltd.

When selling advertising for the Launceston & North East directory the company's sales representatives informed advertisers that 50% of households outside Launceston would receive a copy of the 1995 edition.

In North West Tasmania advertisers were informed, variously, that 50% or 80% of households would receive the 1995 North West & West Coast directory. In Southern Tasmania, similar representations were made to advertisers concerning the Hobart & Southern Tasmania directory, although advertisers were informed that households in Hobart would not receive the directory.

After investigation, the ACCC came to the view that distribution claims made by Universal Press contravened the Trade Practices Act in that, in certain areas, less than the stated percentage of households received a copy of the relevant directories.

The ACCC's investigation also found that claims that the directories were annual publications were misleading as the North East directory was current for less than 12 months.

As a result of the ACCC's action, Universal Press Pty Ltd has provided the Commission with legally enforceable undertakings to provide a full refund to advertisers who feel that they have been disadvantaged by the company's misrepresentations.

Any claims for refunds should be forwarded in writing to Universal Press Pty Ltd, 192 Burwood Road, Hawthorn Vic 3112.