Competition and Consumer Act 2010

Employsure in court over misleading advertising and unconscionable conduct allegations

Civil proceedings have today been instituted against employment relations company Employsure Pty Ltd for allegedly misleading small business consumers that it was, or was affiliated with, a government agency when that was not the case.

It is also alleged that Employsure represented to consumers that it provided a helpline for free workplace relations advice, when the primary function of that helpline was to secure marketing leads to sell its services.

ACM to pay $750,000 for misleading, harassing and coercing consumers

The Federal Court has ordered one of Australia’s largest debt collection firms, ACM Group Ltd, to pay $750,000 in penalties for ACM’s misleading, harassing, coercive and unconscionable pursuit of unpaid debts from two vulnerable consumers.

Between 2011 and 2015, ACM pursued two consumers, one who was resident in a care facility and the other a single parent with limited income, for unpaid mobile services debt which ACM purchased from Telstra.

Property spruiker Rick Otton and We Buy Houses fined record $18 million

The Federal Court has imposed record penalties totalling $18 million against We Buy Houses Pty Ltd (We Buy Houses) and its sole director, Rick Otton, for making false or misleading representations about how people could create wealth through buying and selling real estate, following ACCC action.

The penalties of $12 million imposed against We Buy Houses, and $6 million imposed against Mr Otton personally, are the highest ever imposed for contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law by a corporation and an individual, respectively.  

ACCC action against Captain Cook College for alleged systemic unconscionable conduct

The ACCC has instituted Federal Court proceedings against Productivity Partners Pty Ltd, trading as Captain Cook College, alleging systemic unconscionable conduct in breach of the Australian Consumer Law.

The ACCC alleges that from 7 September 2015, Captain Cook College removed consumer safeguards from its enrolment and withdrawal processes for online courses to improve its financial performance.

Hearing aid retailers fined $2.5 million for misleading pensioners

The Federal Court has ordered hearing aid retailers Oticon Australia Pty Ltd (Oticon) and Sonic Innovations Pty Ltd (Sonic) to pay penalties totalling $2.5 million for misleading pensioners through newspaper advertisements for hearing aids sold by AudioClinic and HearingLife clinics.

Oticon and Sonic admitted that the advertisements contained three false and misleading representations about hearing aids available to pensioners under the Australian Government Hearing Services Program. The misleading representations were that:

Port of Newcastle to reduce charge for Glencore

The ACCC has finalised its arbitration of a dispute between Glencore Coal Assets Australia Pty Ltd (Glencore) and Port of Newcastle Operations Pty Ltd (PNO) about terms and conditions for accessing the ‘declared’ shipping channel service at the Port of Newcastle.

The ACCC has determined that PNO should reduce its current charge for ships entering the port to carry Glencore’s coal by around 20 per cent to $0.61 per gross tonne (GT).

The port provides the only commercially viable means of exporting coal from the Hunter Valley region in New South Wales.