SMBs must be wary of misleading claims, warns ACCC

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The director and sales manager of a telemarketing company have been fined $50,000 each after misleading small businesses over printer cartridges.

The Federal Court ruled that Tuan Nguyen and Thuan Nguyen of Artorios Ink, now in voluntary liquidation, pay the penalties after they admitted to deliberately misleading and deceiving SMBs.

The Court found that the company was misleading or deceptive and made false or misleading representations to five small businesses over 2011 and 2012.

These misleading representations included that the business had agreed to purchase cartridges when there was no such agreement, and that Artorios Ink was an approved, regular, or current supplier of the business when it wasn’t.

Dr Michael Schaper, ACCC deputy chair, said that the ACCC will continue to intervene to protect SMBs from traders who attempt to trick them into paying for goods or services they didn’t purchase.

“These penalties send a warning to traders that dishonest business practices can result in substantial penalties being imposed against the individuals responsible,” Schaper said.

Schaper has warned SMBs to be particularly wary of traders using the following strategies to attempt to deceive employees:

  • Targeting junior staff members and using information gathered from previous calls, like names of other employees and printer models, to trick people into thinking they’re a regular supplier
  • Recording a second phone call which has a staff member confirming an order which is based on previous misrepresentations about the trader’s relationship with the target business
  • Offering gifts like gift vouchers or discounts to entice staff members to orally agree to receiving those gifts. The vocal agreement is recorded by the trader and used out of context to corner the business into paying for unsolicited goods

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