Local Blue Pages Pty Ltd (ACN: 143 453 249) and its sole director and company secretary, Mr Les Papaioannou, have been fined $40,000 and $5,000 respectively, without conviction, for engaging in undue coercion in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law (Victoria).
The Bundoora-based company publishes a phone book known as 'Local Blue Pages'. It includes advertisements from small businesses and is distributed throughout the Melbourne metropolitan area.
Mr Papaioannou, 55, entered a guilty plea acknowledging that he knowingly authorised or permitted the company to:
- serve people with completed Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) applications, which had not been lodged with the tribunal, in an attempt to recover debts owed
- contact small business owners claiming to be from SPT Collections - a business name registered to Mr Papaioannou - in order to lead them to believe that they were dealing with an independent debt collector. The company also falsely represented or overstated the consequences of failing to pay the amount demanded by the company
- demand the payment of debts without having reasonable grounds that the person owed the debt
- contact people in a method they asked not to be used.
Mr Papaioannou faced four charges of knowingly authorising or permitting the company to engage in undue coercion under the Australian Consumer Law (Victoria).
Hearing date: 16 May 2017
Location: Heidelberg Magistrates' Court