Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 


Company fined almost $170K for misleading claims

Telemarketing company fined almost $170K for misleading claims and “slamming” customers


Telemarketing company Power Marketing Limited has been fined $168,750 after pleading guilty in the Auckland District Court today to 23 charges under the Fair Trading Act. The charges related to misrepresentations the company made during telemarketing calls on behalf of telecommunications company Slingshot.

This brings the total fines in the case to $418,750. In December 2013, Slingshot pleaded guilty and was fined $250,000 for its role in the misrepresentations.

The Commission received many complaints from 2009 to 2011 alleging that Power Marketing misled customers about the service provided by Slingshot or by switching customers to Slingshot’s services without their consent, known in this industry as “slamming”.

Power Marketing was employed to cold-call customers hoping to sell them Slingshot’s telecommunications services. Power Marketing conducted an initial sales call to ask if a customer wanted to switch from their current telecommunications provider to Slingshot. It was in the course of this call that telemarketing staff sometimes misled consumers to induce them to switch their telecommunication accounts to Slingshot.

After the sales call, another member of Power Marketing’s team would call customers back claiming that they needed to verify their details. This second call was actually to seek permission to switch companies but these conversations were often vague, hurried and left consumers confused about what they had or hadn’t agreed to.

In some cases this second call purported to verify prior agreement from the customer to switch to Slingshot, when no such agreement had actually been made. This conduct persisted for a period of more than a year.

“This was very poor behaviour on the part of this marketing company. The telemarketers were desperate to make sales by whatever means possible. This is particularly disturbing as Power Marketing senior management were aware of an earlier warning by the Commission to Slingshot about similar conduct, but they continued to push staff to keep up their sales targets,” said Commerce Commission Consumer Manager, Stuart Wallace.

“It also had quite an impact on the individual consumers affected. Even more troubling in this case is that many of those affected were elderly and had no real interest in switching,” said Mr Wallace.

“We’re hopeful that new consumer laws that came into effect recently should help in cases like this. For door-to-door and telemarketing sales, there is now a five-day cooling-off period for consumers where they can cancel a contract for any reason. Plus, an increase in the penalties for these types of breaches should act as a deterrent for businesses,” concluded Mr Wallace.

An aggravating feature of Power Marketing’s offending was that it improperly used a database owned by Telecom – Wireline – that contained private account information of Telecom customers. This was of significant benefit to Power Marketing as the transfer of the prospective customer’s service could not have occurred without the information obtained from Wireline.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Tourism: China Southern Airlines To Fly To Christchurch

China Southern Airlines, in partnership with Christchurch Airport and the South Island tourism industry, has announced today it will begin flying directly between Guangzhou, Mainland China and the South Island. More>>

ALSO:

Dodgy: Truck Shops Come Under Scrutiny

Mobile traders, or truck shops, target poorer communities, particularly in Auckland, with non-compliant contracts, steep prices and often lower-quality goods than can be bought at ordinary shops, a Commerce Commission investigation has found. More>>

ALSO:

Auckland Transport: Government, Council Agree On Funding Approach

The government and Auckland Council have reached a detente over transport funding, establishing a one-year, collaborative timetable for decisions on funding for the city's transport infrastructure growth in the next 30 years after the government refused to fund the $2 billion of short and medium-term plans outlined in Auckland's draft Unitary Plan. More>>

ALSO:

Bullish On China Shock: Slumping Equities, Commodities May Continue, But Not A GFC

The biggest selloff in stock markets in at least four years, slumping commodity prices and a surge in Wall Street's fear gauge don't mean the world economy is heading for another global financial crisis, fund managers say. More>>

ALSO:

Real Estate: Investors Driving Up Auckland Housing Risk - RBNZ

The growing presence of investors in Auckland's property market is increasing the risks, and is likely to both amplify the housing cycle and worsen the potential damage from a downturn both to the financial system and the broader economy, said Reserve Bank deputy governor Grant Spencer. More>>

ALSO:

Annual Record: Overseas Visitors Hit 3 Million Milestone

Visitor arrivals to New Zealand surpassed 3 million for the first time in the July 2015 year, Statistics New Zealand said today. The record-breaking 3,002,982 visitors this year was 7 percent higher than the July 2014 year. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Business
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news