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From the heart: call for introduction agencies to develop code of conduct



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JjjsiL· The Hon Warren Truss MP Minister for Customs and Consumer Affairs Deputy Leader of the House

M e d i a

Release

Friday 13 February 1998 028/98

From the heart: call for introduction agencies to develop code of conduct

The Minister for Consumer Affairs, Warren Truss, has called on the introduction agency industry to develop a code of conduct to improve its service to customers.

Federal, State and Territory Ministers for consumer affairs and fair trading, concerned about ongoing problems in the industry, have chosen tomorrow, Valentine’s Day, as a National Day of Action, to alert the public to these problems.

Mr Truss said some unscrupulous introduction agencies had emotionally and financially exploited customers.

“Unfortunately, government regulators continue to receive complaints about agencies which are willing to exploit people. These operators are bringing the whole introduction industry into disrepute," Mr Truss said

“The problem is likely to be worse than formal complaints indicate, as many consumers may feel embarrassed about speaking out publicly on what are very personal matters.”

Complaints range from exorbitant charges, breach of contract, high-pressure sales methods and false or misleading advertising, to failure to provide suitable matches and delays in providing services

“While there are many reputable people involved in introduction agencies, it’s time to ensure clear professional standards are set and maintained across the whole industry.”

Mr Truss called on the industry to develop a code of conduct.

“Introduction services usually involve a significant cash outlay, so consumers must ensure they understand exactly what they are getting into,” he said. “But the industry also has a responsibility to ensure consumers are offered a quality service.

“There is a need for strong leadership in the industry to set high standards of service. I encourage key participants to demonstrate this leadership by adopting a code of conduct which will set these high standards and help consumers identify reputable agencies.”

Mr Truss said that consumers considering using introduction agency services should take some simple precautions to ensure they received value for money. A suggested checklist is attached.

Contact: Norma Rainey CMR952 Mr Truss’s Office 0418 211 705 (Andrew Hall is on leave)

INTRODUCTION AGENCY CHECKLIST

• Shop around, because the costs and standards o f services differ, and make sure the agency clearly specifies the service it intends to provide.

• Find out what the agency means by an ‘introduction Will they simply provide a telephone number or organise a face-to-face meeting.

• Beware o f pressure sales tactics.

• Beware o f advertising. Some agencies ’ advertisements highly exaggerate the description and availability o f potential partners.

• Read the contract carefully and be aware o f any conditions.

• Be wary o f claims like ‘we have hundreds ofpeople on file just right fo r you ’, as this may not be the case

• Consider the type of questionnaire the agency uses because if it is brief there is less chance that a suitable match will result based on that information.

• Establish how much the service offered is going to cost and beware o f being continually ‘upgraded ’ to a more expensive service, particularly if there has been no or poor service at the lower level.

• Inquire about refunds because quite often refunds will not be offered.

• Consider the value o f using such a service, compared with alternative means o f meeting people, such as education or hobby courses and sporting and social clubs.

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