The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has begun legal proceedings against ABG Pages Pty Ltd which has sold advertisements through its online directory and blog with a fixed 12- or 24-month term.
In a statement, the ACCC alleges that ABG Pages engaged in “a system of unconscionable conduct” and breached the Australian Consumer Law by:
- falsely representing that large businesses purchased their directory services
- using high pressure sales tactics to sell listings in its online business directory
- misleading businesses into entering one or more contracts
- refusing to cancel contracts which customers did not want and did not intend to enter into
- refusing to accept customers’ attempts to cancel contracts
- misleading businesses about the total duration and the total price of contracts
- misleading businesses into entering into second or subsequent contracts for additional listings
- unduly harassing three customers by repeatedly contacting them for payments
“The ACCC alleges that the conduct of ABG Pages resulted in a number of small businesses paying significant amounts of money to ABG Pages for advertising they did not want,” ACCC deputy chair Michael Schaper said.
“We want to send a clear message that making false or misleading representations, engaging in high pressure sales tactics and unduly harassing customers to enter into contracts or pay invoices are not legitimate business strategies.”