The ACCC is on the warpath. The target? Elite Publishing boss Andrew Clifford who is being hunted down amid accusations of “harassment and misrepresentation”.The Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against four publishing companies and their sole director Andrew Clifford.
The companies owned by Clifford – Melbourne and Queensland based Exclusive Media & Publishing, Elite Publishing Group, Wiltshire Publishers, Superior Publications – offered $500 ads in its community magazines, which were never distributed to readers.
Elite Group titles cover everything from promotional products, bedding, flooring and suppliers.
And to top it off, the magazines falsely conned businesses into signing up for paid ads, by faking an order posing as free subscription toe magazines.
“The ACCC alleges the companies never intended to and never did distribute 500 copies of any of their magazines as represented,” it said in a statement today.
“After the businesses signed and returned those documents, the publishing companies claimed that they had in fact agreed to buy advertising services, for which they demanded payment.”
Clifford’s media outlets also “used harassment, coercion and acted unconscionably” when pursuing those payments.
Dodgy conduct allegedly included threatening legal proceedings against the businesses if they did not pay or falsely claiming legal action had already commenced when in fact nothing could have been further from the truth.
The competition watchdog is seeking: declarations that the conduct of the companies contravened various sections of the Trade Practices Act 1974 and that Clifford was “knowingly concerned” in the contraventions and injunctions restraining him from engaging in similar conduct in the future.
Clifford will also have to cough up compensation and will be disqualifed from managing corporations, if the ACCC has its way.
The case it to be heard before Justice Dowsett at 9:30 A.M. on 18 October.