Lifestyle Photographers Pty. Ltd. have found themselves in hot water with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC.) Lifestyle Photographers Pty. Ltd. could face up to $1.1 million in fines if the allegations of targeting and tricking Aboriginal consumers into paying up to $10,000 for family photos hold up.
The ACCC alleges that the company from 2012 to 2014 targeted Aboriginal consumers, whose primary language is not English, by using high-pressure sales tactics. Allegedly, the company would lure consumers in through their pop-up stores and kiosks located in shopping centers around Australia by offering free photos of them and their families. After this, the company would then used high pressure tactics in order to have the consumers sign documents, often without explaining what they were signing. These contracts ranged anywhere from $2,800 to $9,900.
The ACCC goes on to state that Lifestyle Photographers knew that some of their customers were vulnerable to these tactics because they were Aboriginal, meaning English is not their primary language and their reading and numerical skills were quite low.
According to NT News, “ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said the conduct of concern allegedly targeted the most vulnerable groups in the Australian community, including customers who were in ‘considerable financial distress’ or had ‘limited capacity to understand commercial contracts.’”
Multiple witnesses have been contacted to talk about the incident. One stated that she was approached while with her daughter and granddaughter at a local shopping center. According to court documents, Lifestyle Photographers offered to take photos of her granddaughter “for free” and then she signed a contact stating, “We (Lifestyle Photographers) will take $179 a fortnight from your account.”
It appears that the case is just beginning as a directions hearing is set for Federal Court on October 8, 2015.
[via NT News]