CONSUMER Protection�s case against the �Australian Trade Services Register� (atsregister.com) was heard at the Mandurah Magistrates Court on Tuesday, May 26.
It involved one criminal charge for sending an invoice or document that did not contain a warning statement of �This is not a bill. You are not required to pay any money� � a requirement under Australian Consumer Law.
A small business in Mandurah was the recipient of the illegal invoice, sent by the Queensland company.
The accused did not appear but pleaded guilty.
Director Geoffrey Beckett (55), from Southport, was fined $1800 and the company Register.com Pty Ltd, based in Bundall was fined $3600. In addition, both Mr Beckett and the company were ordered to pay costs of $360 each.
Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said it was the first time Consumer Protection had prosecuted a business for this kind of consumer law breach.
�This has been important legal action to get a warning message out to companies that are doing the wrong thing when sending unsolicited invoices,� he said.
�Mail-out recipients, such as small businesses, faced a very real risk of monetary loss because the document sent by Australian Trade Services Register could very well have passed as an ordinary invoice due to be paid as part of everyday business.
�In truth it was seeking payment for registration with a website offering questionable industry exposure and trade connections.
�The issue of businesses unknowingly paying out-of-the-blue invoices for advertising, subscriptions, directory listings or domain names, is a widespread one and this court action gives an opportunity to highlight the problem.�
Mr Hillyard urged businesses to make sure employees were aware to look out for unsolicited invoices and to double-check the goods or services had actually been supplied upon request.
�Ask for a copy of the order authorisation before paying,� he said.