Protecting consumers from misleading sales calls
Utel Networks was fined and ordered to review its telemarketing practices as a result of a TIO systemic investigation.
We referred the results of a systemic investigation about Utel’s sales practices to the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC). Our investigation showed that consumers’ landline services were being transferred to Utel without proper consent.
Issues raised by consumers
Complaints made to the TIO suggested that Utel was not getting informed consent from consumers it cold-called before transferring their services. The telemarketers would usually claim to be calling from the consumers’ existing providers.
Other issues included not giving consumers information about cooling-off periods and transferring services away before the end of cooling-off periods.
What we did
We raised these issues with Utel in May 2012, reminding the company that some of them may be contrary to the Australian Consumer Law and the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code.
Utel’s response did not address our queries, and it did not appear that the company had acted on our recommendations because we continued to receive these types of complaints. In September 2012, we referred the issue to ACCC and the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
The ACCC issued three fines totalling $19,800 and ordered Utel to make a court-enforceable undertaking to ensure that its telemarketing staff will not identify as being from another provider.