Consumer Affairs Victoria is taking Andreas Triantafyllos, 44, to court for failing to attend and give evidence in accordance with statutory notices. We issued those notices under the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012 as part of an investigation into luxury car hire services.
As part of that investigation we had identified Mr Triantafyllos as a person capable of giving evidence relating to possible breaches of the Australian Consumer Law, including misleading, deceptive, and unconscionable conduct, in the provision of those services. Under the notices, Mr Triantafyllos was required to appear before the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria on 19 August 2019 and 2 October 2019. As he failed to do so, he is now required to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 3 September 2021.
We have previously taken court action against Mr Triantafyllos and VIP Executive Car Rentals Pty Ltd, a company which he was the director of, in 2005.
Our action followed complaints from consumers in Australia and overseas. Consumers reported they were able to obtain refunds of about $270,000, including $172,000 through credit card transaction reversals.
VIP accepted money from consumers when they hired prestige cars, terming those deposits as ‘pre-authorisations’ or ‘security deposits’ against the possibility of damage to the vehicles.
Representations were made that the money would not be debited to consumers’ credit cards unless the cars were damaged. However, VIP debited the amounts immediately and failed to refund customers when the cars were returned undamaged, or when they asked for their money back.
We made a successful application in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court for declarations that VIP had engaged in contact that was misleading or deceptive, or was likely to mislead or deceive. Injunctions were also granted, limiting how VIP and Mr Triantafyllos could operate its credit card facility to take security deposits.
Our most recent investigation was initiated after we received further complaints from consumers.
Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria, Nicole Rich, said that ignoring a statutory notice to give evidence was a serious matter and Consumer Affairs Victoria would take action to address non-compliance where required. Ms Rich said statutory notices were an important tool to ensure consumer regulators can help protect the community from unlawful business practices.