ACCC launches court action against EnergyAustralia and Bright Choice Australia; Myer chief calls for closure of GST loopholes: Midday roundup

ACCC launches court action against EnergyAustralia and Bright Choice Australia; Myer chief calls for closure of GST loopholes: Midday roundup

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has launched proceedings against EnergyAustralia and its telemarketing company Bright Choice Australia for allegedly making false and misleading representations and engaging in deceptive conduct.

The competition watchdog alleges Bright Choice signed up a number of consumers from Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland to EnergyAustralia over the phone without their knowledge or consent.

In a statement, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said consumers should be protected from misleading statements from salespeople, whether on the phone or face-to-face.

“Regardless of whether a salesperson is knocking on your door or calling you at home, the legal protections of the Australian Consumer Law apply,” Sims said.

“The ACCC’s message is clear – energy companies must act to ensure that their sale agents and representatives do not engage in unlawful sales tactics, whether they are selling door-to-door or telemarking.”

The competition watchdog is seeking penalties from both companies, as well as an injunction and compliance order against Bright Choice.

A directions hearing will be held for both proceedings in Melbourne in February.

Myer chief calls for closure of GST loopholes

Governments need to do more to close “unfair” tax loopholes for overseas companies, according to Myer’s chairman Paul McClintock.

McClintock used his chairman’s address at the company’s 2014 annual general meeting to call on both state and federal governments to tackle “several major inconsistencies” which harm trade and prevent Australian businesses from reaching their full potential.

He told shareholders Myer collected more than $300 million in GST from its customers last financial year. In addition, the retail giant pays more than $49 million in income tax and over $20 million in payroll tax.

“Offshore retailers selling into Australia pay none of this and it is important that this loophole is closed,” McClintock said.

“The retail industry has argued strongly that the GST exemption issue must be on the agendas of federal and state governments, but action has still not been taken.”

Shares down on open

The Australian sharemarket opened down this morning, with gains in energy stocks offset by weakness in consumer stables.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was down 0.28%, or 14.9 points to 5316.2 at 11.46am AEDT. On Thursday, the Dow Jones closed 33.27 points higher, up 0.19% to 17,719 points.

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