Federal Court orders Getaway Escapes and its Director to pay penalties totalling $325,000 | ACMA

Federal Court orders Getaway Escapes and its Director to pay penalties totalling $325,000

The Federal Court has ordered travel agent Getaway Escapes Pty Limited (in liquidation) and its director, Joanne Day, to pay pecuniary penalties of $325,000 in total for breaches of the Do Not Call Register Act and the Telemarketing and Research Industry Standard.

‘These penalties serve as a reminder that unlawful telemarketing can have serious consequences,’ said ACMA acting Chairman, Richard Bean. ‘Businesses should never make telemarketing calls to numbers on Do Not Call Register unless they have consumer consent, and must always ensure that their (the caller’s) number can be displayed on the consumer’s phone.’

The Australian Communications and Media Authority filed proceedings in Brisbane against the company and director in March 2016, following an investigation into complaints from the public. Although neither respondent defended the proceedings, Ms Day did make submissions on the penalties to be paid by her.

On 10 June the Federal Court ordered Getaway Escapes to pay penalties of $150,000 for 5,293 telemarketing calls made to numbers on the Do Not Call Register, and a further $150,000 for making telemarketing calls between July 2013 and 18 March 2014 without displaying the number of the caller, in breach of the Industry Standard.

The Court also found that Ms Day was knowingly concerned in or a party to the company’s contraventions and ordered her to pay penalties of $12,500 for the Do Not Call breaches and $12,500 for the Industry Standard breaches.

The Court also granted an injunction restraining Ms Day from operating any business involved in making unsolicited telemarketing calls for five years, without first notifying the ACMA.

Costs were awarded against the respondents.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Blake Murdoch, on (02) 9334 7817, 0434 567 391 or media@acma.gov.au.

Media release 28/2016 - 15 June

Background

The ACMA filed proceedings against Getaway Escapes Pty Limited (in liquidation) and its director, Joanne Day, on 11 March 2016, alleging that a substantial number of calls were made:

  • to numbers on the Do Not Call Register in breach of the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 (the Act)
  • without displaying the caller’s number (calling line identification) in breach of the Telemarketing and Research Industry Standard 2007.

The ACMA is responsible for enforcing the Act and the related Telemarketing and Research Industry Standard 2007 and Fax Marketing Industry Standard 2011.

The Do Not Call Register is established under the Do Not Call Register Act. Australians can enter their fixed line or mobile telephone numbers on the Register, provided those numbers are used primarily for private or domestic purposes. Any number used exclusively as a fax number can also be registered. There are currently 10.6 million numbers on the Register.

It is illegal for most unsolicited telemarketing calls or marketing faxes to be made to numbers on the Register. Businesses have 30 days from the date a number is registered to check their call lists and stop contacting that number.

The key obligation not to make unsolicited telemarketing calls to numbers on the Register applies to both businesses which make telemarketing calls themselves, and businesses which engage a third party to make telemarketing calls on their behalf. The scheme is intended to ensure that a business cannot side-step the rules by outsourcing its telemarketing.

Some unsolicited calls are permissible, including:

  • marketing calls from businesses with which the recipient has an established ongoing relationship, unless consent has been withdrawn
  • calls from political parties, members of parliament, and political candidates, soliciting donations or offering goods and services
  • calls from educational institutions, offering goods or services, to a recipient who is, or was, a student of that institution 
  • calls from registered charities, soliciting donations or offering goods or services
  • opinion polling and research calls.

All of these telemarketing calls are, however, subject to telemarketing industry rules that limit the hours during which calls can be made, require callers to enable the display of their phone number, and require callers to terminate that call upon request.

Most ‘campaign calls’ from political parties and interest groups are not subject to the Do Not Call Register rules.

The Register will not stop scam calls. Australians are encouraged to be cautious when receiving any unsolicited calls and if a scam is suspected, to simply hang up.

If an ACMA investigation finds a person has breached the Do Not Call Register rules, it has several enforcement options available to it, including:

  • issuing a formal warning
  • accepting an enforceable undertaking aimed at ensuring future compliance – which is enforceable in the Federal Court
  • issuing an Infringement notice
  • applying to the Federal Court or Federal Circuit Court for a pecuniary penalty order.

Last updated: 15 June 2016