Easymeals penalised for overcooked telemarketing | ACMA

Easymeals penalised for overcooked telemarketing

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Convenience meals manufacturer, Easymeals by Flavour Makers Pty Ltd, has paid penalties totalling $13,600 for making telemarketing calls to numbers on the Do Not Call Register and calling outside of permitted hours.

An Australian Communications and Media Authority investigation found that Easymeals’ national call centre in Brisbane made calls outside of the calling times allowed by the Telemarketing Industry Standard. The calls were made to States with a time zone up to two hours behind Brisbane, which meant they were received earlier than the 9 am start time permitted on weekdays and Saturdays.

The investigation also found that Easymeals’ call centres made telemarketing calls to some consumers on the register after they had asked to opt-out of further calls—a breach of the Do Not Call Register Act.

‘Consumers should not be interrupted at unreasonable hours simply because a telemarketer has failed to take Australia’s different time zones into account,’ said the ACMA’s acting Chairman, Richard Bean. ‘This case demonstrates that telemarketers need to take their obligations under the Telemarketing Industry Standard and the Do Not Call Register Act seriously.’

Since the ACMA’s investigation, Easymeals has taken a number of steps aimed at ensuring compliance.

Members of the public can join the register and opt out of receiving unsolicited telemarketing calls and marketing faxes by calling 1300 792 958 or visiting www.donotcall.gov.au. Complaints about telemarketing calls and marketing faxes can be made the same way.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Emma Rossi on (02) 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or media@acma.gov.au.

Media release 29/2016 - 3 August

Backgrounder

The ACMA is responsible for enforcing the Do Not Call Register Act 2006, 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.

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 businesses that make telemarketing calls themselves, and businesses that engage a third party to make telemarketing calls on their behalf. The rules are intended to ensure that a business can’t side-step the rules by outsourcing its telemarketing.

Some unsolicited calls are permissible, including instances where the telephone account-owner (or a nominee of that person) has consented to receiving the calls.

Consent may be either express, or inferred from the conduct, business and other relationships of the two parties. Where a business seeks to rely on the defence of consent to make a telemarketing call, it bears the evidential burden of establishing that there is a reasonable possibility that the account-holder consented to receive the telemarketing call. It is therefore important that businesses retain adequate records to identify the source of the consent, in the event of any complaint.

Consent may also be withdrawn at any time by a person indicating to the business they do not wish to receive further telemarketing calls. The withdrawal of consent takes immediate effect.

Other calls that are permissible include:

  • calls from political parties, members of parliament, and political candidates, soliciting donations or offering goods and services
  • calls from educational institutions in which the recipient is, or was, a student of that institution, offering goods or services
  • calls from registered charities, soliciting donations or offering goods or services
  • opinion polling and research calls.

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

The Telemarketing Industry Standard states that telemarketing calls cannot be made (at the time of day at the place that is the usual residential address of the relevant account‑holder):

  • before 9am or after 8pm on weekdays
  • before 9am or after 5pm on Saturdays
  • at any time on Sundays.

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 investigation finds a person has breached the register rules, the ACMA 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: 02 August 2016