A local devices reseller has been banned from entering any indigenous community in Australia, following allegations of “unconscionable conduct”.
FDRA Pty Ltd (FDRA), formerly known as Angel Digital, and its director Jackson Anni had given undertakings to the Federal Court not to enter any indigenous community in Australia or the Royal Darwin Hospital and its associated hostels to sell any goods or services for a period of five years, following action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
In December 2015, the ACCC brought proceedings in the Federal Court alleging that Anni and FDRA engaged in “unconscionable conduct, misleading and deceptive conduct” and contraventions of the unsolicited selling provisions of the Australian Consumer Law in the sale of electronic tablets and related extras.
“Indigenous consumer protection is an enduring priority for the ACCC and we took this action to protect the rights of Indigenous consumers under that Australian Consumer Law,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“The undertakings to the Federal Court provide a high level of protection to Indigenous consumers going forward and serve as a warning to other traders that they must comply with the Australian Consumer Law wherever they are trading, including Indigenous communities.
“We encourage Indigenous consumers to contact the ACCC or the police if they are concerned about the conduct of traders operating in their communities.”
During its proceedings, the ACCC had alleged that from September 2014, Anni and sales representatives acting on behalf of FDRA entered into “at least 600 agreements” with indigenous consumers in remote indigenous communities across the country.
As such, it was alleged that the FDRA representatives did not comply with requirements for unsolicited consumer agreements and made false and misleading representations that the tablets being supplied were iPads which contained ‘thousands of games”, requiring consumers to pay an additional fee for a warranty.
The ACCC also alleged that FDRA had engaged in “unconscionable conduct” in circumstances where some consumers had a "poor understanding of English and of commercial transactions" and where the business used false or misleading representations and failed to comply with the unsolicited consumer agreements provisions.
The undertakings, which were made to the Federal Court and are enforceable, also require Anni and FDRA to cease accepting payments and automatic deductions in relation to goods or services supplied within seven days of executing the undertaking.
In addition, Anni and FDRA have been enforced to only sell electronic tablets to any Australian consumer that first approach them, provide a 10 day cooling off period (including not taking payment or supplying goods).
Furthermore, Sims said both parties must supply written agreements with all the goods or services it sells to every consumer, irrespective of whether they are unsolicited consumer agreements and provide $20,000 for consumer redress, to be distributed by the ACCC.