A PHOTOGRAPHY company could be facing up to $1.1 million in fines over allegations it systematically tricked Aboriginal consumers into paying up to $10,000 for family photographs, with the money coming directly out of some consumers’ Centrelink payments.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Lifestyle Photographers Pty Ltd, alleging the company made false or misleading representations and engaged in unconscionable conduct when selling photography products.
The ACCC alleges in court documents that between 2012 and 2014, Lifestyle Photographers operated kiosks and pop-up stores in shopping centres around Australia, where it would offer customers a free photo shoot or free photographs, claiming they would be able to receive the photos at no cost and without entering into a contract.
The consumer watchdog claims Lifestyle Photographers used these promises of free photographs and other inducements to then pressure the customers into signing expensive ongoing contracts, some of which ranged from $2800 up to $9900, often without explaining the total amount payable.
According to the ACCC’s court documents, high-pressure sales tactics were allegedly used both in inducing the consumers to have the photographs taken, and in the contract negotiations, including informing the customer the photographic prints would be destroyed if they did not buy them.