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ACCC commences legal action on Bill Express

Mark Fletcher
October 30th, 2008 · 6 Comments

The ACCC yesterday applied to the Federal Court of Australia for orders under section 87 of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (TPA) and injunctions under section 80 of the TPA in respect of contraventions of sections 47(1), 52 and 53(g) of the TPA. The respondents to the action are: Bill Express Limited, Technology Business International Pty Ltd (TBI), BNY Trust Company of Australia Pty Ltd and Mobius Financial Services Pty Ltd.

The Age has the details on this story.

I have read the seven page application as well as the seventeen page case summary as lodged with the Court by the ACCC. It is comprehensive and provides some insight into the considerable work invested by the ACCC on the Bill Express matter this year.

The ACCC application has been lodged with the court’s Fast Track List on behalf of two Victorian newsagents – as a test case.

In brief summary, the application seeks, among other things, a declaration that the TBI contracts are void, that the claims by BNY in relation to payments are void and that monies paid since February 2008 be refunded.

Many parties have worked toward this including the newsagents who supported the class action started by a group of newsagents in NSW and supported by the QNF and NANA and other newsagents. In June of this year the ANF cast doubt on the capacity of the ACCC to act on this matter. Yesterday’s action by the ACCC is considerably more than anything achieved by the ANF in relation to Bill Express in recent years.

VANA and the ANF ought to hang their heads in shame about Bill Express. They have let newsagents down dreadfully on this issue. Around 900 newsagents are still paying the monthly equipment lease – many because VANA and the ANF have not provided sound advice to members. My understanding is that more than1,500 newsagents have stopped these direct debits because of legal advice from the NSW class action published through NANA, the QNF, here and other places.

Given the developments over the last twenty four hours, it is no wonder that some legal advisors were shocked that the ANF had engaged in negotiations with BNY and related parties to reach a financial settlement. I sought to discuss this with the ANF but was met with arrogance and distrust. The experience reinforced the opinion I have come to over the last two months – the ANF is of no relevance to newsagents and the sooner we starve the organisation of cash and cause its closure the better.

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Category: Bill Express

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Geoff P. // Oct 30, 2008 at 6:22 AM

    I am one of those still paying. The ANF manager told me to keep paying when I called in July. Can I get my money back?

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  • 2 Michael // Oct 30, 2008 at 8:03 AM

    That’s excellent news. I hope the ANF and Ian Christianson are re-thinking the way they do business.

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  • 3 Mark // Oct 30, 2008 at 9:19 AM

    Geoff, It is not too late to cancel your direct debit. Stop paying this money – ignore the ANF advice as they have been wrong on this for a long time.

    Michael, I am not holding my breath.

    Mark

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  • 4 George // Oct 30, 2008 at 11:08 AM

    The time has come where as newsagents we must give serious consideration to launching some form of action against the ANF. Their conduct on this and other issues is at best questionable and worthy of more thorough investigation. Perhaps having a few people speak to the ACCC on the advice given and potential refunds of membership fees is in order?

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  • 5 Anon. // Oct 30, 2008 at 12:20 PM

    Was the false advice that the ANF gave, the same advice that they received from their ’boutique’ lawyers – or was the ANF advice given as a convenience to themselves?????

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  • 6 Mark // Oct 30, 2008 at 3:29 PM

    Anon, My understanding is that when the ANF started newsagents should keep paying they had not received advice from their lawyers. mark

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