Melbourne’s Sprint Telco has paid a penalty of $10,800 following an infringement notice by the competition watchdog after allegedly making false or misleading representations.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) handed the infringement notice to the landline, mobile and internet services reseller after claiming to have established reasonable grounds that Sprint Telco made a false or misleading representation to a consumer during a telemarketing call in October 2016.
The customer in question was transferred from Telstra to Sprint Telco, according to the ACCC. It is alleged that Sprint Telco represented to the consumer that it was acting as Telstra’s agent or with Telstra’s approval, when that was not the case.
“Unauthorised transfers can result in unexpected costs to consumers such as early termination fees, cancellation fees, loss of discounts from bundling services and costs to reconnect with their original provider,” ACCC acting chair, Delia Rickard, said.
“The ACCC will continue to act where consumers are switched, or attempted to be switched, from one telecommunications service provider to another without their express knowledge or informed consent,” she said.
The ACCC stressed that the payment of a penalty specified in an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the Australian Consumer Law.
However, the competition watchdog can issue an infringement notice where it has reasonable grounds to believe a person has contravened certain consumer protection laws.
The infringement notice comes after Sprint Telco was ordered to pay thousands of dollars to a former worker following legal proceedings in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia in Melbourne.
A former contractor to Sprint Telco filed an application on 8 May 2017 seeking payment to recoup underpayments of wages to the tune of nearly $6,000 along with unpaid superannuation entitlements.
The former employee gave sworn evidence to the court that she was allegedly not paid between June 2016 and July 2016.
According to court documents, not only was the former employee allegedly not paid in full, but a director of the company, Blake Griffiths, allegedly threatened to expose the employee to the Immigration Department.
Griffiths has been a director of Sprint Telco since February 2017, according to court documents.
“The most disturbing aspect of this case is the evidence of what occurred when the applicant sought payment of outstanding wages,” Federal Circuit Court Judge, Alister McNab, said in his judgment on the case, handed down on 17 May.
“The applicant gave evidence that she overheard Blake Griffiths speaking in a loud voice in the workplace to a person who she understood was in India,” McNab said. “She said that Mr Griffiths was pretending to be a policeman and talking to a person in India about another person who had posted a Facebook post stating that Sprint Telco did not pay their employees."
For his part, Griffiths has disputed the sworn evidence presented to the court by the former contractor, telling ARN that the allegations were false and flagging plans to launch a defamation case against the former worker.