Have you fallen prey to the telco equipment rental scam? If so, you are not alone. Gold Coast-based lawyers Attwood Marshall has hundreds of clients and has already launched one class action in the Federal Court and is looking to start further similar proceedings in coming months.
Attwood Marshall solicitor Lauren Magasdi said yesterday at least one of her clients was a Townsville business owner and she suspected many other North Queensland victims would emerge as finance companies started sending out bills for as much as $100,000 to pay for equipment which costs a couple of thousand dollars.
”Our clients report the same basic pattern,” she said.
”A sales person from a telecommunications firm approaches a prospective business customer with the claim that it can slash the business’ monthly telephone bill.
”The sales person also tells the customer that as part of the deal he or she will throw in, at no extra cost, new business equipment, usually a phone system, plasma and a fax/copy machine.
”The sales person offers the equipment as part of a ‘bundled package’ or, alternatively, describes the equipment as ‘free’.
”The customers sign a contract.”
She said while the customers were led to believe they were signing an agreement with the telecommunications firm and that the contract was for call costs, what they were really signing was a five-year equipment rental contract with a finance or leasing company, agreeing to pay up to $100,000 for a phone system.
At least one Townsville home loan business owner, who did not want to be identified, has been caught in the scam.
The business owner said they knew and trusted the salesman who came to them from a local office equipment company.
They were offered a package deal of phone call billing credits and supposedly free business and office equipment.
After the initial telecommunication company ceased trading, the business owner later found out they had signed an equipment rental agreement.
”I was shocked that I had actually signed two separate contracts,” the business owner said.
Another class action had been launched involving 38 clients against Fresh Telecom, Bower Finance and Technology Leasing Ltd.
She is considering another class action against Quick Fund Rental Corporation and Clear Telecom, some of whose clients, including the Townsville, were previously clients of Queensland Communications Company which had ceased to trade.