[LINK] One or twice maybe .. but 108 times, with an average $7, 400 each

Stephen Loosley StephenLoosley at outlook.com
Sat Nov 28 23:36:52 AEDT 2020

Telstra fined A$50 million for 'unconscionable' sales to indigenous customers

By ROBERT CLARK  11/26/2020  https://www.lightreading.com/asia/telstra-a$50m-fine-for-unconscionable-sales-to-indigenous-customers/d/d-id/765720?

The Australian competition regulator is suing Telstra for "unconscionable conduct" in selling mobile services to indigenous customers who could not understand them nor afford them.

The company has admitted that staff at five Telstra-branded stores in two states and in the Northern Territory "used unfair selling tactics and took advantage of a substantially stronger bargaining position" when selling Telstra post-paid products, the ACCC said in a statement.

Telstra faces fines of up to A$50 million (US$36.8 million) for breaches of the consumer law.

The 108 customers incurred an average debt of A$7,400 each.

Many of them spoke English as a second or third language, had difficulties understanding Telstra's written contracts, and were unemployed or on government benefits, the ACCC said.

In some cases, staff misled consumers into believing the products were free. In other cases they falsely recorded that a consumer was employed so that they could pass a credit assessment.

ACCC said the Telstra's board and senior executives were unaware of the improper sales practices when they occurred, but managers who learned of the practices failed to do anything about them.

"Even though Telstra became increasingly aware of elements of the improper practices by sales staff at Telstra licensed stores over time, it failed to act quickly to stop it, and these practices continued and caused further, serious and avoidable financial hardship to indigenous consumers."

Telstra acknowledged to the ACCC that it had no effective systems in place to detect or prevent this type of conduct.

It has agreed to the filing of consent orders to the court in support of penalties totaling $50 million, the ACCC said. It will be up to the court to decide whether the penalties are appropriate.

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