ACCC to throw the book at website that preyed on small retail businesses

By Patrick Avenell

The ACCC has today launched proceedings against a business directory website which is alleged to have preyed on small business owners with a series of lies, tricks and deception. Unfortunately, a number of retailers in the consumer electronics space were taken in by these allegedly “unconscionable” tricksters.

According to documents tendered to the Federal Court in Brisbane, the ACCC has commenced legal action against Australialink Pty Ltd, and its director Rachel Dargie, and general manager Desmond O’Keefe, for “engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct and unconscionable conduct”.

Australialink Pty Ltd publishes online business directory listings – much like the Yellow Pages websites – where small businesses can pay to have their details listed. The method by which Australialink went about gathering these clients and subsequently, collecting invoices, is the ire of the ACCC.

“The ACCC has alleged that the forms by which Australialink solicits listings for its directories contain representations which are misleading or deceptive, or likely to mislead or deceive, recipients about whether they have had prior dealings with Australialink,” said an ACCC spokesperson.

A number of retail businesses are currently listed on the Australialink site, including Positive Business Supplies, in Virginia, Queensland, and Office Metro, in Melbourne, Victoria.

In addition to the aforementioned charges, the ACCC has also leveled the following allegations against Australialink:

-They intentionally conveyed the misleading representations in the notices.
-They intended to trick, confuse, mislead or deceive recipients into signing and returning the forms it used to solicit orders.
-They used unfair tactics against the recipients.
-They failed to disclose to businesses intended conduct of Australialink that might affect their interests.
-They failed to act in good faith.

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