GoTalk refutes ACMA court case

CEO says problems linked to sacked Indian call centres

GoTalk has slammed the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) over a law suit taken against it for breaches of the Do Not Call Register Act.

It is the first time the communications watchdog has taken a company to the Federal Court of Australia for breaching the Act.

GoTalk allegedly called more than 40,000 telephone numbers listed on the register said to have predominantly originated from two Indian call centres.

CEO Steve Picton told Computerworld the company had sacked the call centres following previous legal undertaking by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in 2007.

“We came into agreement with the ACCC over the alleged actions of the [Indian] call centres and we no longer employ them,” Picton said.

“Fundamentally [the ACMA] action is all around the Indian call centres… we haven’t breached the (Do Not Call Register) Act since and have not received notifications that we have done so.

“It relates to a period a long time ago that has been rectified.”

Picton said GoTalk had not supplied banned phone number lists to the sacked call centres, and therefore did not have visibility into tele-marking actions. He noted there are other channels that supply banned telephone number lists to offshore sales agents.

He said the 40,000 alleged breaches of the Act “isn’t extraordinary” over a four month period because calls may go unanswered, but said he understands it “appears like large number from the point of view of a consumer”.

The Act was set-up in 2006 by the then communications minister Helen Coonan, which banned telemarketers from calling numbers listed on the register.

While the ACMA would not discuss the allegations or what penalties are being sought, breaches have historically proven costly.

Discount telco Dodo Australia was slapped with a $147,400 fine – the largest in the history of the Act - in 2008 after its offshore call centres rang 67 de-listed Australian phone numbers.

The telco opted to pay the fine, issued by ACMA, rather than pursue the matter in court and face incurring a higher bill.

GoTalk agreed with an ACCC decision in 2007 to record telemarketing calls and to monitor conversations at random to ensure compliance with the Trade Practices Act.

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