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.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Trade: NZ Trade Deficit Widens To A Record In September

Oct. 27 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand's monthly trade deficit widened to a record in September as meat exports dropped to their lowest level in more than three years. More>>


Animal Welfare: Cruel Practices Condemned By DairyNZ Chief

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says cruel and illegal practices are not in any way condoned or accepted by the industry as part of dairy farming.

Tim says the video released today by Farmwatch shows some footage of transport companies and their workers, as well as some unacceptable behaviour by farmers of dragging calves. More>>


Postnatal Depression: 'The Thief That Steals Motherhood' - Alison McCulloch

Post-natal depression is a sly and cruel illness, described by one expert as ‘the thief that steals motherhood’, it creeps up on its victims, hiding behind the stress and exhaustion of being a new parent, catching many women unaware and unprepared. More>>


DIY: Kiwi Ingenuity And Masking Tape Saves Chick

Kiwi ingenuity and masking tape has saved a Kiwi chick after its egg was badly damaged endangering the chick's life. The egg was delivered to Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs in Rotorua 14 days ago by a DOC worker with a large hole in its shell and against all odds has just successfully hatched. More>>


International Trade: Key To Lead Mission To India; ASEAN FTA Review Announced

Prime Minister John Key will lead a trade delegation to India next week, saying the pursuit of a free trade agreement with the protectionist giant is "the primary reason we're going" but playing down the likelihood of early progress. More>>



MYOB: Digital Signatures Go Live

From today, Inland Revenue will begin accepting “digital signatures”, saving businesses and their accountants a huge amount of administration time and further reducing the need for pen and paper in the workplace. More>>

Oil Searches: Norway's Statoil Quits Reinga Basin

Statoil, the Norwegian state-owned oil company, has given up oil and gas exploration in Northland's Reinga Basin, saying the probably of a find was 'too low'. More>>


Modern Living: Auckland Development Blowouts Reminiscent Of Run Up To GFC

The collapse of property developments in Auckland is "almost groundhog day" to the run-up of the global financial crisis in 2007/2008 as banks refuse to fund projects due to blowouts in construction and labour costs, says John Kensington, the author of KPMG's Financial Institutions Performance Survey. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news