The sales and South Australian division of energy company AGL has been ordered to pay combined penalties of $1.555 million by the Federal Court for illegal door-to-door sales practices.
Marketing company CPM Australia, which was hired by AGL, also copped a fine of $200,000 for its role in the door-to-door sales.
Two CPM salespeople acting on behalf of AGL Sales in Victoria and South Australia made false representations and engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct during uninvited calls to consumers.
The salespeople made a series of false statements including telling people they were being overcharged by their suppliers. They also breached Australian Consumer Law by not clearly advising consumers the salesperson’s purpose of calling was to sign them up to AGL for the supply of energy and gas.
The penalties come following action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission into the practices.
RBA minutes reveal further cuts likely
Reserve Bank of Australia minutes released this morning reveal the Board believed there had been scope “for some months” to cut interest rates and signalled possible further cuts.
On May 7, the RBA lowered the official cash rate by 0.25% to 2.75%.
Many economists predicted the RBA would leave rates on hold for another month and wait until after the budget to lower interest rates, but the latest minutes indicate the Reserve Bank predicted domestic economic activity would be below trend in May.
“Conditions in the business sector, as assessed in surveys, generally had remained below average, possibly in part because the exchange rate had remained high despite lower export prices and interest rates.
“For some months the Board had considered that the inflation outlook provided scope to ease monetary policy further, should that be necessary to support demand. Members recognised that the effects of the earlier reductions in interest rates were still working through the economy. Nonetheless, growth was expected to be somewhat below trend for a while, and the inflation outlook had, if anything, been revised down slightly,” the minutes say.
Shares fall on mixed offshore leads
The Australian share market has opened lower this morning, following mixed leads from offshore markets.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 46.6 points or 0.9% to 5,162.4 at 12.00 AEST, while in the United States the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 19.1 points or 0.1% to 15,335.3.
The Australian dollar has risen slightly to US 0.978 cents.