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Consumer & Business Advice
Media releases
21 November 2017

The Supreme Court has imposed penalties totalling $120,000 against a company and its director for engaging in misleading conduct to sign up South Australian schools for online advertising.

Lukeleo Pty Ltd and its director/shareholder Luke Farrell were fined after admitting to making various false and misleading representations, in breach of the Australian Consumer Law.

The Supreme Court also granted the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs’ application to disqualify Farrell – who had also owned/operated Directorylistings.com.au Pty Ltd and Directory Services Australia Pty Ltd, and traded under Corporate Directory of Australia Pty Ltd and Australian Telephone Directory - from managing a corporation for 12 months.

The business – which operated an online directory known as BIG Pages – had contacted seven schools and kindergartens in a misleading manner, leaving staff with the impression they were renewing an existing contract to advertise in the directory.

Telemarketers also implied that the service was either free or that the cost would be covered by the Education Department, with schools subsequently billed $995 for the entry.

Justice Malcolm Blue said claims by telemarketers to school staff that there was no cost associated with the ad were “blatantly false”.

“The contraventions were deliberate,” Justice Blue said.

Commissioner for Consumer Affairs Dini Soulio said the company’s conduct was disappointing.

“Businesses and organisations have a duty to be honest when dealing with consumers,” he said.

“This matter should serve as a reminder to all businesses – especially those who hire telemarketers who are selling advertising or promotional opportunities – of the consequences, when you fail to abide by the Australian Consumer Law.

“It also highlights why it’s so important for businesses and individuals to exercise significant caution when dealing with telemarketers offering these kinds of services.

“The conduct involved was particularly disappointing as the business misled schools in both suburban and regional areas, some of which exclusively teach children with a disability.