Illegal mail-outs cost website director and company $6,000

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A director and company behind a business promotion website have been fined $5,400 in total for sending mail-outs that breached the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

Consumer Protection’s case against the ‘Australian Trade Services Register’ (atsregister.com) was heard at the Mandurah Magistrates Court on Tuesday 26 May 2015. It involved one criminal charge for sending an invoice or document that did not contain a warning statement of: ‘This is not a bill. You are not required to pay any money’ – a requirement under the ACL. The accused did not appear but pleaded guilty.

Director 55-year-old Geoffrey Beckett from Southport in Queensland was fined $1,800 and the company Register.com Pty Ltd, based in Bundall, Queensland was fined $3,600. In addition, both Mr Beckett and the company were ordered to pay costs of $360.30 each.

Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard says it’s the first time Consumer Protection has prosecuted a business for this kind of consumer law breach.

“This has been important legal action to get a warning message out to companies that are doing the wrong thing when sending unsolicited invoices,” he said.

“Mail-out recipients, such as small businesses, faced a very real risk of monetary loss because the document sent by Australian Trade Services Register could very well have passed as an ordinary invoice due to be paid as part of everyday business. In truth it was seeking payment for registration with a website offering questionable industry exposure and trade connections.

“The issue of businesses unknowingly paying out-of-the-blue invoices for advertising, subscriptions, directory listings or domain names, is a widespread one and this court action gives an opportunity to highlight the problem.”

“I urge businesses to make sure employees are aware to look out for unsolicited invoices and to double-check that the goods or services have actually been supplied upon request. Ask for a copy of the order authorisation before paying.”

Further information for businesses is available at www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumer-protection/business

Media contact: Consumer Protection 

Consumer Protection
Media release
28 May 2015

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