Telco Superfone Cops $300k Fine For Dodgy Telemarketing
Telco company Superfone has been slapped with a $300,000 fine in the Federal Court for misleading customers and making unsolicited telemarketing calls to vulnerable members of the community.
In proceedings brought by consumer watchdog the ACCC, Superfone was found to have made false and misleading representations and breached laws designed to protect consumers from unsolicited telemarketing sales.
The Federal Court declared Superfone had contravened the Australian Consumer Law between June 2017 and December 2018 when cold-calling customers and signing them up to unwanted new contracts.
More than 1400 consumers, including many elderly people, were contacted by telemarketing agents at Superfone.
“Superfone’s behaviour was unacceptable. After making unsolicited calls, it misled consumers into entering contracts which the consumers did not want, and did not provide them with information about the ten-day cooling-off period or their rights to terminate the contract,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
“When some consumers tried to cancel their contracts, they were charged termination fees.”
The Court found Superfone tended to target vulnerable consumers – or at least were only successful in securing unsolicited agreements with vulnerable consumers.
“All businesses must comply with the Australian Consumer Law provisions dealing with unsolicited calls and door to door sales, including the ten-day cooling-off period and termination rights. These laws exist to protect consumers when dealing with cold callers, and give them the opportunity to change their minds about a purchase or agreement they have made as a result,” Rickard added.
“We will continue to take enforcement action against businesses which contravene the unsolicited consumer agreements provisions.”
The Court also ordered Superfone to email consumers who entered into an unsolicited agreement with Superfone, and subsequently paid a termination fee on cancellation of their contract, advising them to contact Superfone for a full refund of the fee.
Superfone is also required to email other consumers whose unsolicited agreement have expired, but who are continuing to receive services from Superfone on a month-to-month rolling basis, offering them the opportunity to exit their contract with Superfone without charge.
Superfone admitted liability, but contested the penalty amount and other orders.