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A.C.C.C. alleges 'slamming' by Austcomm

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings in the Federal .Court Perth, against a Western Australian telephone services reseller, two senior executives, and four marketing agents.

The ACCC alleges the unauthorised transfer of customers from one telephone company to another, or 'slamming* as it is known in the industry.

The proceedings are against Austcomm Tele Services Pty Ltd, Mr Les Aris, a company director, Greg Erskine, a company manager and four of its marketing agents Vision Direct (WA) Pty Ltd, Cheville Corporation Pty Ltd in W.A. and ADS Marketing Pty Ltd and Kobra Pty Ltd in Victoria.

The ACCC alleges that in the course of reselling telephone services to householders Austcomm claimed:

• It was offering an auditing or bill checking service; • its services provided savings in circumstances where savings were not available; and • it was part of, a branch of, subsidiary or an authorised agent of Telstra when this was not the case.

The ACCC also alleges that Austcomm: -

• engaged in unconscionable conduct by signing up a person with a special disability who could not read the contract; and • rendered accounts without a reasonable cause to believe it had a right to payment.

The ACCC is seeking orders which include declarations, findings of fact, injunctions to restrain the conduct, costs, orders requiring refunds to be offered, the implementation of verification processes and a trade practices compliance program. A directions hearing will be held in Perth at 9 a.m. on 24 September 1998.

This action follows a warning on 13 August 1998 by the ACCC that it would act quickly against telephone companies who transfer customers from other companies without proper authorisation.

Further information Mr David Lieberman, Commissioner, (03) 9290 1818 Ms Lin Enright, Director, Public Relations, (02) 6243 1108 or (0414) 613 520 15 September 1998

MR 171/98

PO Sox 1199 Dickson ACT M S

VQ Nonivouriv Avc Dickson ACT 2602 Ph 1021621211II P m 102162421199