The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced that the Federal Court in Brisbane has ordered three publishing companies, Elite Publishing Group Pty Ltd, Wiltshire Publishers Pty Ltd and Exclusive Media & Publishing Pty Ltd, as well as the companies' director Andrew Clifford, have been ordered to pay a total of A$500,000 for engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct, harassment and coercion, and unconscionable conduct in relation to advertising services that were never requested or provided. According to the ACCC, the companies contacted mostly small businesses and told them that they had already paid for or agreed to advertising in one of the companies' magazines, when in fact they had not, and subsequently sent them a document inviting them to sign it in order to receive complementary copies of the magazines. The companies further admitted to harassing and coercing some businesses when pursuing payment.
ACCC's media release (20 September 2012)
Domino's Pizza's Indian website was hacked, potentially exposing the personal data, including phone numbers, email addresses and passwords, of up to 37,000 customers. Domino's Pizza franchisee Jubilant FoodWorks (JFW) reportedly confirmed that the website was hacked, but stated that no customer details were compromised. A JFW statement reportedly said that "[t]his is a very unfortunate event which has happened despite the security ecosystem that we have created around our online assets" and that the company had improved its security, monitoring and audits.
Computer World: Domino's Pizza India operation says website hacked (12 September 2012)
(Source: Computer World)
A customer of computer retailer Harvey Norman received a hard drive containing 131,000 images after taking a laptop computer to a store for repair. Barbara Cumming reportedly sought to have files recovered from a damaged laptop and transferred to a new hard drive. IT expert Malcolm Mitchell reportedly stated that it was likely that the files had been copied to Ms Cumming's hard drive by mistake. According to The Age, Harvey Norman compliance officer Marylyn Prekop stated that the company could not confirm "with any certainty that a breach of privacy has occurred", although Harvey Norman chairperson Gerry Harvey added "[i]t's obviously some ... human error". Ms Cumming is reportedly considering referring the matter to the federal Privacy Commissioner.
The Age: Customer finds nude photos on new hard drive (20 September 2012)
(Source: The Age)
The New Zealand Commerce Commission (NZCC) has announced that it has reached a settlement with insurance provider IAG New Zealand Limited (IAG), who has agreed to settle charges that it breached the Fair Trading Act. In August 2011, IAG discovered that it had miscalculated claims in relation to the Canterbury earthquake claims of 643 previously paid out total loss insurance claims, which would also affect the renewal of 150,755 current policies.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has announced that it has a reached a settlement with Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) for it to make available up to A$136 million, on top of A$132 million already paid, as compensation for losses suffered on investments made through Storm Financial Limited (now in liquidation), in which it held a 30% stake. The settlement resolves legal action brought by ASIC against CBA in relation to an unregistered managed investment scheme.
ASIC's media release (14 September 2012)
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced that the Full Federal Court has dismissed appeals by premium mobile service providers Global One Mobile Entertainment Ltd and 6G Pty Ltd, against an earlier court decision that certain advertisements about continuing premium rate mobile phone subscriptions were misleading or likely to mislead consumers. According to the ACCC, both companies represented, through advertisements, that a consumer could purchase mobile premium services including ring tones, games and quizzes at a one-off cost when in fact the consumer was actually requesting access to a continuing premium rate mobile subscription.
ACCC's media release (17 September 2012)
The New Zealand Commerce Commission (NZCC) has announced that the Auckland District Court has imposed a fine of NZ$960,000 on Vodafone New Zealand Limited (Vodafone) for contravening the Fair Trading Act (FTA), bringing the total fine to $NZ1.6 million, which includes the fines imposed in 2011 for six other FTA charges. The latest rulings are in relation to advertising campaigns run by Vodafone from October 2006 - February 2009 for various broadband and mobile phone promotions. Justice Harvey described the company's conduct as "gross carelessness".
NZCC's media release (10 September 2012)
The New Zealand Commerce Commission (NZCC) has announced that it has warned kiwifruit pollen supplier Kiwi Pollen (NZ) Limited for potentially misleading its customers about the source of its pollen, in breach of the Fair Trading Act. In September and October 2010, Kiwi Pollen sold pollen imported from Chile, while at the same time representing to its customers that all of its kiwifruit pollen was sourced from New Zealand. Although most of its product was sourced from New Zealand during that time, it did not tell its customers when it was also selling them imported pollen. The company's labels, which read "Kiwi Pollen New Zealand", "reinforced the impression that the pollen was from New Zealand, particularly where there were no clear qualifications on its packaging, advertising material or website that some of its pollen was imported".
NZCC's media release (11 September 2012)
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced that the Federal Court in Darwin has fined EDirect Pty Ltd (trading as VIPtel Mobile) a total of A$2.5 million for making misleading and deceptive representations to 350 customers in remote and regional communities in Australia in relation to telemarketing and "voice contracts". The Court found that the company told customers that it had verified there was coverage at the their nominated address when it had not verified this, and that there was no such coverage. Justice Reeves described the conduct as "unscrupulous", noting that if companies "do not properly supervise and control their telemarketers to ensure that they comply with Australia's consumer protection laws they can expect to be dealt with severely".
ACCC's media release (6 September 2012)
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced that the High Court of Australia has ruled that "[Garuda Indonesia (Garuda)] could not claim immunity from [the ACCC's] allegations of cartel conduct" in relation to the ACCC's investigations into alleged cartel conduct in the airline industry. According to the ACCC, Garuda claimed that it was entitled to sovereign immunity under the Foreign State Immunities Act 1985, as it is owned by the Indonesian Government, however the application was dismissed by the Federal Court and failed again on appeal to the Full Federal Court.
ACCC's media release (7 September 2012)
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