The Full Federal Court has upheld an appeal by Unique International College Pty Ltd (Unique) and dismissed a cross appeal by the ACCC and the Commonwealth (on behalf of the Department of Education and Training). The Full Court found that Unique did not engage in a system of unconscionable conduct regarding the enrolments of vulnerable consumers into diploma courses.
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.
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.
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.
The ACCC has accepted a court-enforceable undertaking from Volkswagen Group Australia (Volkswagen) to improve compliance with its consumer guarantee obligations under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
Volkswagen has undertaken to review past complaints, and offer refunds, replacements or repairs to customers where consumer guarantees rights were not honoured.
We will soon commence a public review of the proposed merger between TPG and Vodafone Hutchison Australia. We are expecting to receive a submission and other information from the parties shortly and the initial timeline for our review to be 12 weeks.
The ACCC welcomes legislation that has passed Federal Parliament today to increase maximum financial penalties under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).