Solar company and director ordered to pay $535,000 penalty (Unleash Solar Pty Ltd / Dionysios Perdikoyiannis)
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A solar company and its Director have been ordered by the Federal Court to pay a total penalty of $535,000 for misleading and deceptive conduct and failing to supply goods to WA consumers.
Unleash Solar Pty Ltd (in liquidation), formerly based in Adelaide, was ordered to pay $390,000 and sole Director Dionysios Perdikoyiannis was ordered to pay $145,000 for multiple contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law, with the money to be paid to the WA Government.
Justice McKerracher banned Mr Perdikoyiannis from managing or working in any capacity for a business involved in promoting or supplying solar panels systems in Australia for three years.
The default judgement was brought down on 30 September 2016 in the absence of Mr Perdikoyiannis, who is currently living overseas, or any other company representative.
Unleash Solar had made false or misleading representations to at least four consumers with regard to the amount of the financial benefits they could claim under the Residential Net Feed-in Tariff Scheme (FiT Scheme) after the scheme was ended by the WA Government on 1 August 2011.
The company had also accepted payment for solar panel systems from six consumers between December 2010 and March 2011 but failed to supply and install them. In connection with the supply of solar panel systems, a free ‘Powerboost solar panel cleaner’ was offered to eleven consumers but the company failed to supply the items.
Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said the substantial Federal Court penalties demonstrate that there are serious consequences for businesses and individuals who engage in misleading and deceptive practices.
“The deception in this case was quite deliberate and promoted a financial benefit that no longer existed,” Mr Hillyard said.
“Although Mr Perdikoyiannis is now overseas, the ban imposed by the Court prevents him operating in the solar panel industry for three years, ensuring he is unable to be in a position to deceive Australian consumers in the near future. Should he return after that period, he would be closely monitored by Australian consumer protection agencies.”
“The case also highlights the issue of businesses accepting deposits and failing to supply the goods or services within a reasonable time, as required by the Australian Consumer Law. Businesses are obliged to fulfil their orders within a reasonable time.”
“Consumers should avoid paying large deposits in these circumstances and fix a timeframe for installation so there is no doubt as to when the work should be completed.”
This is the first time Consumer Protection in WA has taken action in the Federal Court.
“Taking action in the Federal Court was necessary in this case as it was a more effective way to commence proceedings against an individual who is now residing in the United States,” the Acting Commissioner said.
More information on consumer rights is available on the Consumer Protection website www.commerce.wa.gov.au/cp or enquiries can be made by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1300 30 40 54.
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