On 29 November 2013, the Federal Court ordered (by consent) Excite Mobile Pty Ltd (Excite Mobile) to pay penalties of $455,000 for engaging in false, misleading and unconscionable conduct, and using undue coercion in relation to its sales practices for mobile phone services.  In handing down its orders, the Federal Court noted that the conduct was egregious, systematic and deliberate.  The contravening conduct included:

  • creating a fictional complaints handling organisation called “Telecommunications Industry Complaints” which deceived consumers into believing that complaints about Excite Mobile were being handled by an independent organisation;
  • falsely representing to customers that mobile phone coverage was available at their home address when it was not, including to customers in remote indigenous communities where no coverage was available;
  • falsely posing as an independent debt collector;
  • falsely representing the rights and remedies available to Excite Mobile in the event that legal proceedings were instituted against the customer; and
  • generally unconscionable sales methods to induce customers to enter mobile phone contracts.

A director and employee involved in the conduct were also ordered to pay penalties and injunctions were made restraining each person from engaging in similar conduct for a period of seven years.