ISP People Telecom, whose door-to-door sales deliberately misled consumers over many years and which often engaged in dodgy practises, has been accused by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission of transferring customers from rival carriers without consent in an effort to get a sale.And when customers complained, the ISP simply called in the debt collectors.
As part of a court-enforceable undertaking, People Telecom has been forced to offer affected consumers refunds and waive debts arising from telemarketing and door-to-door sales on its behalf.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Graeme Samuel said this matter again highlights the importance of companies monitoring what their sales agents are doing.
“The ACCC will continue to hold companies responsible for what is said or done by their authorised representatives.” He said that for several years, People Telecom has used telemarketers and door-to-door sales agents to promote its telecommunication services, which include mobile, fixed phone and data services.
The ACCC said that People Telecom signed up customers and then, without their consent, moved their existing broadband and phone service to their own service.
Its sales executives told consumers that People Telecom was an agent or subsidiary of the customer’s current carrier and that they had to change their carrier to People Telecom. At the time they advised consumers that the move would not not compromise any current contractual or billing arrangements with their current carrier when this was not the case.
Some customers affected by this conduct disputed the obligation to pay invoices from People Telecom, and those invoices were referred to debt collectors as part of People Telecom’s credit management process.
In response to concerns that People Telecom may have breached the Trade Practices Act, it has offered the ACCC a court-enforceable undertaking that it will not make misrepresentations of the kinds listed above.
The ACCC has also ordered the ISP write to affected customers, and place a notice on its website, offering to allow them to terminate their contract without penalty, and refund or waive certain debts arising from the misrepresentations.