Telstra Corp. faces the second-biggest penalty ever imposed for breaching consumer laws in Australia after admitting mis-selling mobile-phone contracts to more than 100 Indigenous Australians who couldn’t afford the plans or understand the terms and were plunged into debt.
The nation’s former phone monopoly has admitted unconscionable conduct in the sale of the plans between 2016 and mid-2018 and faces penalties of A$50 million ($37 million) if the Federal Court rules such a fine is appropriate, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said in a statement Thursday.
“This case exposes extremely serious conduct which exploited social, language, literacy and cultural vulnerabilities of these Indigenous consumers,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said. The unfair sales tactics, which included manipulating credit assessments, left the customers in “avoidable financial hardship” with average debt of more than A$7,400.
Telstra Chief Executive Officer Andy Penn said he visited some of the affected communities earlier this year to apologize in person.
Today we reached a settlement with @acccgovau following an investigation they undertook into unconscionable conduct by five Telstra licensed stores who engaged in inappropriate sales practices with 108 Indigenous customers from 2016-18.12:04 AM · Nov 26, 2020
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