Company or individual details
NameAustralian Hearing Services
ABN80 308 797 003
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has accepted a court enforceable undertaking from Australian Hearing Services ABN 80 308 797 003 (Australian Hearing) in relation to false and misleading representations, and misleading and deceptive conduct.
Australian Hearing is an Australian Government owned corporation, established as a body corporate under the Australian Hearing Services Act 1991. It provides services to consumers under the Australian Government Hearing Services Program (Hearing Program), and predominantly under the Voucher Program.
Under the Voucher Program, Australian Hearing provides services on a 'for profit' basis, including hearing assessments and fittings, as well as hearing devices and maintenance services for hearing devices, to eligible adults including pensioners and veterans. The cost to consumers of these services and devices is subsidised by the Australian Government.
Australian Hearing owns and operates Hearing Help, a telehealth and online service offering hearing advice to consumers.
Australian Hearing has admitted that it:
- made statements on Facebook that Hearing Help is ‘unbiased’ when in fact it is owned and operated by Australian Hearing, with an objective of increasing Australian Hearing’s acquisition of customers
- made statements on Facebook that Hearing Help is government funded when in fact it is funded by Australian Hearing
- represented in renewal reminder letters to consumers that annual subscriptions for maintenance services were mandatory for all but a small number of Voucher Program consumers when in fact maintenance agreements are optional for all Voucher Program consumers.
Australian Hearing has admitted that in making these representations and engaging in this conduct, it contravened sections 18, 29 and 34 of the Australian Consumer Law.
To address the ACCC’s concerns, Australian Hearing provided the ACCC with a section 87B undertaking that it will:
- publish corrective notices on the Hearing Help Facebook page
- send a corrective letter to all consumers who received a renewal reminder letter
implement a compliance program which includes annual training on the Australian Consumer Law for its customer service staff, a review of its complaint handling processes and a review of its processes to monitor representations made by its customer service staff.
On 28 May 2019 the ACCC agreed that under Clause 10 of Attachment C to the Undertaking, training for Australian Hearing staff must be conducted or prepared by a suitably qualified compliance professional or legal practitioner with expertise in competition and consumer law.