Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Curtis Pitt has welcomed legal proceedings against a company alleged to have coerced Indigenous consumers in Far North Queensland.
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) is prosecuting Excite Mobile Pty Ltd in the Federal Court for false and misleading conduct and unconscionable conduct in providing mobile phone services.
Excite Mobile is also alleged to have used undue coercion in attempts to obtain payment for mobile phone services.
Mr Pitt said some residents in the Aboriginal community of Yarrabah, south of Cairns, have been subject to coercive sales tactics from door-to-door sales people and telemarketers.
“There is an ongoing issue with high pressure door-to-door sales tactics in Yarrabah,” Mr Pitt said.
“It’s not uncommon for people to be coerced into signing up for goods and services at vastly inflated prices, and for mobile phone plans where they can’t even get coverage.
“Although it has close proximity to Cairns, Yarrabah is still isolated in terms of transport, which makes its residents particularly vulnerable to these tactics.
“Yarrabah residents, like those in other Indigenous communities, face disadvantages as consumers.
“These include geographic isolation, lack of choice and competition, and restricted access to services.
“The Queensland Government is committed to protecting Indigenous consumers.
“That’s why this week I launched a short film which better arms Indigenous people to protect their consumer rights.
“This scenario-based two-minute film, Do you know your consumer rights?, has been developed by the Office of Fair Trading.
“It provides advice around issues like buying faulty items, buying items that don’t last a reasonable amount of time and what to do when approached by door-to-door traders.
“The film also provides information about consumer guarantee and refund rights, while encouraging consumers to contact the Office of Fair Trading in the event of a dispute.
“It’s all about ensuring Indigenous Queenslanders don’t get fleeced, coerced or bullied by unscrupulous operators.
“Indigenous people should be aware that they can say no, and anyone facing high pressure sales tactics should contact the Office of Fair Trading.”