Consumers

Lloyds Auctioneers pays penalty for excessive payment surcharges

Lloyds Auctioneers and Valuers Pty Ltd (Lloyds) has paid penalties totalling $37,800 after the ACCC issued three infringement notices for alleged breaches of the excessive payment surcharges law.

From September 2017 to March 2018, Lloyds charged customers a 2.25% surcharge when making credit or debit card payments online for auction items purchased.

The ACCC considered these surcharges were excessive because they were higher than Lloyds’ cost of processing those payments by as much as 1.43%.

Optus misled customers over ‘Direct Carrier Billing’ charges

The ACCC has commenced proceedings against Optus, alleging it made false or misleading representations to consumers in relation to its third-party billing service known as ‘Direct Carrier Billing’ (DCB).

Optus has admitted that it made false or misleading representations in contravention of the ASIC Act, and has agreed to apply jointly with the ACCC for orders from the Federal Court.

Equifax (formerly Veda) to pay $3.5 million in penalties

The Federal Court has ordered that Equifax Australia Information Services and Solutions Pty Ltd (Equifax) pay penalties totalling $3.5 million for misleading and deceptive conduct and unconscionable conduct in relation to credit report services following joint submissions by Equifax and the ACCC.

Equifax admitted it breached the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) in 2016 and 2017, when its representatives made false or misleading representations to consumers during phone calls.

Wine grape market study

On 26 September 2018, the ACCC announced it would conduct an in-depth review of the Australian wine grape industry and identify any market failures or trade practices issues that may be preventing the functioning of competitive markets or resulting in detriment to wine grape growers.

Court finds training college’s conduct to be misleading and unconscionable

The Federal Court has found training college Cornerstone Investments Aust Pty Ltd, trading as Empower Institute (Empower), engaged in unconscionable and misleading or deceptive conduct, and made false or misleading representations when enrolling consumers into diploma courses.

Between March 2014 and October 2015, Empower enrolled more than 6,000 new students in its courses. Many of these students were vulnerable consumers and were signed up using incentives such as free laptops and cash, unaware they were incurring a significant debt.

Telcos on notice about false and misleading advertising

ACCC Chair Rod Sims has put telecommunications companies on notice to ensure their advertising is clear and transparent or face court action from the regulator, including much higher penalties and a warning that the ACCC may bring proceedings against executives who knowingly approve misleading advertisements.

Earlier this year the ACCC began investigating Optus, Vodafone and Telstra’s use of the term ‘unlimited’ to promote mobile data plans, concurrent with private litigation brought by Optus against Telstra in the Federal Court.

'Congestion-free' claims removed from Aussie Broadband's NBN advertising

NBN provider Aussie Broadband has removed statements across its advertising which described its broadband services as “congestion-free” in response to concerns raised by the ACCC.

Since July 2017, Aussie Broadband claimed that it offered “congestion-free NBN™” and a “congestion-free network”. Aussie Broadband made these statements widely in its advertising, including throughout its website, Facebook posts and advertisements, targeted emails and direct mail-out letters.