A financial services company has been slapped with a $100,000-plus fine by the communication watchdog for continually hounding consumers with telemarketing phone calls.
Super Information Team paid the massive infringement notice after an Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) investigation found it called numbers listed on the “do not call register” nearly 900 times to advertise superannuation.
The unlawful marketing was a focus for the watchdog, given the potential for harm involved, especially at a time when many Australians have experienced financial difficulties due to Covid-19 restrictions, ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said.
“Unwanted telemarketing causes frustration and anxiety, and the do not call register is your phone’s equivalent of a ‘no junk mail’ sticker on your letterbox,” she said.
“Super Information Team did not have adequate compliance systems in place to prevent the calls being made to numbers on the register by an outsourced provider.
Camera IconThe company pestered hundreds of Australians on the “do not call register”. Credit: Supplied
“You can’t outsource your compliance obligations. If a third party is working on your behalf, it is your responsibility to ensure compliance with the telemarketing rules.”
The watchdog will now be monitoring Super Information Team to ensure it implements recommendations from an independent review of its compliance operations.
Ms O’Loughlin said the scale of the fine should serve as a warning, after nearly $1.8 million in infringement notices were handed out in the past 18-months.
Earlier this week, ACMA revealed the average amount of time taken by telcos to fix problems has risen by almost 50 per cent to 12.2 days from 8.2 days two years ago.
It found just over one million complaints were lodged in the 2020-21 financial year, a drop of more than 35 per cent from almost 1.7 million in 2018-19.
ACMA authority member Fiona Cameron said the time taken to resolve complaints was “going in the wrong direction” and that one million complaints a year was still “far too many”.
She attributed the decline in the number of complaints to rules ACMA introduced in the 2018-19 financial year.
“With so many people working from home due to Covid-19 restrictions, it is more important than ever that telcos prioritise fixing problems and we are looking to industry to improve in this area,” she said.
“We think it’s time for every telco to make its complaints-handling performance public and transparent.”
With Catie McLeodInternet Explorer Channel Network