Macquarie Bank has defended itself against claims by ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel and ABC-TV that it had sided with telephony industry “rogues” in pursuing hundreds of small Australian businesses through the courts over contracts claimed to have been misleading and in some cases illegal.
The issues received a new airing in Monday night’s Four Corners on ABC-TV.
The small business owners claim they were tricked by purveyors of so-called “telephony bundle” deals into paying outlandish prices for televisions, phones and laptops, which they had been told were included free in their contracts. The companies that sold them the contracts later went out of business – but the contracts in many cases were taken up by finance companies including Macquarie Bank and pursued through the courts.
A spokeswoman for Macquarie Group said the firm had co-operated with the ACCC’s investigations and denied its behaviour was questionable. “The total outstanding value of equipment in dispute is approximately $1 million, with the average claim of approximately $19,000,” she said.
“In all cases in dispute, customers have ceased making rental payments and refused requests to return equipment to Macquarie.”
Graeme Samuel – a former MacBank executive – told Four Corners MacBank’s attitude had been a source of great disappointment. He warned businesses against signing any telephony-bundle contract.