The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has accepted a court enforceable undertaking from Sensis Pty Ltd (Sensis) following an investigation into its automatic renewal and cancellation processes.
Sensis provides print and online advertising and marketing services to Australian businesses including under the Yellow and White Pages brands.
From at least January 2015 to August 2016, Sensis represented on its website that its Yellow Pages and White Pages bundled print directory and online packages had a monthly fee with a 12 month minimum contract period, but failed to adequately disclose that:
these bundled packages automatically renewed for a further 12 months unless cancelled by the customer; and
the customer may be charged a cancellation fee equal to the remaining cost of the contract if they tried to cancel an automatically renewed contract after a certain date.
The ACCC also considered that Sensis failed to adequately disclose these automatic renewal and cancellation terms in certain communications to customers both during and after the contracting process.
To address the ACCC’s concerns, Sensis has provided a court enforceable undertaking which includes an acknowledgement that its conduct may have contravened the Australian Consumer Law prohibitions on misleading conduct, and has undertaken to:
refund affected customers who have not already been refunded by Sensis;
publish a corrective notice on the Website;
maintain changes to its contracting systems and processes to minimise the risk of customers being misled;
appoint an internal compliance officer to ensure appropriate training, to monitor compliance with Sensis’ contracting processes, and report any compliance issues to Sensis’ senior management;
appoint a suitability qualified independent external party (‘reviewer’) to review Sensis’ compliance with the undertaking and report any deficiencies to Sensis’ senior management and, where required, the ACCC.