Competition regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is suing two foreign companies for allegedly scamming small businesses looking to list online in the Yellow Pages.
The ACCC has filed a Federal Court claim against Yellow Page Marketing and Yellow Publishing, accusing them of misleading hundreds of customers into thinking they were dealing with the publisher of the Yellow Pages directory – which in reality is Telstra (ASX:TLS) subsidiary Sensis.
The two European companies are accused of offering businesses a 'free' advertising listing on Google, then sending them an invoice for over $3,000 – a charge only mentioned in fine print.
The companies are alleged to have used a facsimile of the Yellow Pages' iconic 'walking fingers' logo in supporting documentation, further perpetuating the impression that the victims were dealing with the Yellow Pages publisher.
Court documents have been served in the Netherlands and the UK, the home jurisdiction of the accused.
The watchdog is asking that all the contracts with Australian businesses be voided, and that the moneys collected be repaid.
In the interim, it has asked for an injunction restraining the companies from seeking payment from new businesses.
The ACCC has also asked for pecuniary penalties and injunctive relief.