Misleading Marketer Cops Chickenfeed Fine

[Author – Tim ODwyer]

A Port Douglas marketing group which promoted a North Queensland property with pictures from another housing estate has been convicted of misleading conduct and fined in Cairns Magistrates Court.

North Queensland Development Corporation was fined the paltry sum of $1500 for five breaches of the Fair Trading Act 1989 and ordered to pay $750 professional and court costs.

“The corporation made false and misleading representations about the location of land being advertised for sale,” Fair Trading Minister Keech said in a media release.

“The marketing group, acting on behalf of a local property developer, produced brochures and advertisements with pictures of a housing estate which was not the actual property for sale. In this case, the marketing group and the real estate agent were working in conjunction on the advertising material and still managed to get it wrong. ”

Mrs Keech also said false or misleading advertising was against the law, but neglected to did not mention if any action was taken against the agent.

The Minister did point out that the prosecution was a timely reminder to businesses which advertised in the marketplace to know their responsibilities.

To operate lawfully, she continued, businesses need to ensure:

  • product descriptions are accurate and precise;
  • characteristics, suitability or quantity of goods and services are accurate;
  • any claims of length of time in business is accurate; and
  • the overall impression of advertisements are correct (and are not heavily qualified by fine print).

“If you find a mistake in your advertising you should immediately notify your customers and publicise the mistake with the corrections,” Mrs Keech advised.

“Businesses who take advantage of consumers through misleading advertising face fines of up to $40,500 for an individual and $202,500 for a company,” warned this Minister who nevertheless failed to comment on the adequacy or otherwise of the penalty imposed on the marketing group for its misleading advertising.

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