Misleading owner contravened Trade Practices Act: ACCC

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 14th April 2008

A small business owner has admitted to misleading jobseekers, including international tourists, about the availability of work in Taree and other parts of New South Wales and Queensland.

Mr Richard Alexander Roberson, trading as Backpacker Employment Services published a number of advertisements in local newspapers in the mid north coast of New South Wales area offering fruit picking jobs.

Mr Roberson represented that:

  • fruit picking jobs were available in a variety of locations, including the Taree area of New South Wales and in Queensland
  • he could supply fruit picking jobs to unemployed persons if they agreed to pay for a six month subscription at a cost of $50 or a 12 month subscription for $100 with BES
  • he could guarantee employment to his subscribers for the length of their subscription, and
  • he had between 200 and 300 fruit picking jobs available at an orchard in Taree; that these jobs were available from July 2007; that accommodation was also available and that the rate of pay would be $16 per hour.

The investigation by the ACCC revealed that Mr Roberson had no arrangement with the orchard and further, that Mr Roberson had no reasonable grounds for representing that he would be able to offer fruit picking jobs to subscribers for the entire period of their subscriptions.

The ACCC considers that by making these representations that Mr Roberson engaged in conduct in contravention of sections 52, 53 (c) and (d) and 53B of the Trade Practices Act 1974.

Mr Roberson has provided a court enforceable undertaking to the ACCC that he will refrain from making the representations detailed above in circumstances where they are not correct and/or he does not have reasonable grounds for making such representations.

Mr Roberson has also undertaken to:

  • write to subscribers of BES informing them of the undertaking and offering a refund
  • publish a consumer notice in the Manning River Times and the Port Macquarie News, correcting the misrepresentations made
  • provide a refund of the entire subscription fee to any BES subscriber who requests a refund
  • implement a trade practices compliance program, and
  • attend trade practices law training.

“All businesses, big or small, must ensure they can deliver what they promise,” ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, said. “Misleading job advertisements waste the time, and in this case, the money of job seekers, which could have been spent seeking genuine employment opportunities elsewhere.”