The state’s consumer watchdog has taken court action against online advertising company BIG Pages alleging it engaged in false, misleading deceptive conduct.
South Australia’s Consumer and Business Services (CBS) has begun proceedings in the Supreme Court of South Australia against online directory advertising company LukeLeo Pty Ltd trading as BIG Pages and sole director Luke Farrell.
Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, Dini Soulio, alleges BIG Pages are in breach of Australian Consumer Law by engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct and making false or misleading representations in relation to its advertising services.
BIG Pages is an online advertising directory, ‘Business, Indigenous & Government Pages’.
It is alleged that in 2013, BIG Pages contacted a number of schools and kindergartens across the state falsely representing that the school’s entry in the BIG Pages was up for renewal.
BIG Pages allegedly asked the staff member to check the school’s details were still correct on a faxed document which showed the school’s logo, contact details and a description of the school’s services.
“Staff believe they were tricked into confirming the order for advertising, having been misled into believing that the school already had an existing listing in the BIG Pages online directory,” Mr Soulio said.
“The schools then received an invoice for $995 and in some cases, were threatened with debt collection action if they refused to pay.”
It is also alleged that on some occasions, BIG Pages falsely represented that the cost of advertising in BIG Pages would be covered by the State Government, when there was no such approval or sponsorship.
The Commissioner for Consumer Affairs is alleging that the sole director Luke Farrell was knowingly involved in the contraventions and is seeking declarations, injunctions, pecuniary penalties and costs from the court action.
Businesses and individuals who are found by a court to have breached the Australian Consumer Law can face penalties of up $1.1 million for a corporation and $220,000 for an individual.