Startel fined $320,000 for telemarketing breaches; Consumer sentiment lifts in April: Midday Roundup

The Federal Court has ordered by consent Startel Communication Co to pay $320,000 in penalties after telemarketers misled consumers.

Startel was found to have misled consumer as to their rights under Australian Consumer Law when trying to sell them mobile phone plans.

Justice Collier found the company had also failed to advice consumers of their rights and imposed unlawful conditions on consumers.

“I do not consider that the contraventions identified by the ACCC and conceded by Startel were in any way trivial, or mere technical breaches of the ACL,” Collier found.

“The relevant provisions of the ACL seek to ensure that consumers negotiating agreements with such dealers in such circumstances are provided with agreements which fully and fairly inform them of their rights to terminate the agreements. In the circumstances of this case the contraventions of the ACL by Startel were serious, numerous, and occurred over a relatively lengthy period of time.”

Consumer sentiment lifts in April

Consumer sentiment had lifted by 0.3% in April, a result analysts say is a “mild surprise” given the downward trend in sentiment since November 2013.

In April the Westpac Melbourne Institute of Index of Consumer Sentiment rose 0.2 points from 99.5 to 99.7.

However, the slight increase did little to make up for the 9.6% fall in sentiment witness since November.

The positive result was supported by the increase in new jobs seen in February.

Prospects for the housing market continued to deteriorate, according to the index. The ‘time to buy a dwelling’ reading fell a further 3.9%. The figure is now 20% lower than its peak in September last year.

“This fall has been particularly acute in Victoria where the peak to trough slump has been 39% including a particularly sharp 19% fall in April,” Westpac Melbourne Institute senior economist Matthew Hassan said in a statement.

Shares up on open

Aussie shares have opened higher this morning, with David Jones shares up 23.04% following a takeover bid by Woolworths South Africa.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was up 55.6 points to 5466.2 at 12:19pm AEDT. Overnight the Dow Jones closed 10.27 points higher, up 0.06% to 16,256.14.

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