VIC Australian Consumer Law - Sensis Demanding Payment for Unauthorised Ads?

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30 March 2016
In Nov 2015, Sensis posted our small business a letter saying they had made changes we requested to our ad and to please approve online. We had no prior communication with them, had made no requests and had not agreed to any advertising at all for 2016.

They commenced billing for an unauthorized ad from Nov and have relentlessly sent demands for payment. I have now made 12 phone calls since January and have repeatedly been advised that our contact notes show a 100% credit has been requested but not yet approved and they will contact me in 24-48 hrs.

They never fulfil their promise of contact and after 3 months of promises to remove the unauthorized charges, I am receiving demands for escalating amounts that after only 4 months are now double any annual agreement we have ever had.

Are these charges illegal under Australian Consumer Law if we have no signed contract? How do I force them to remove the charges and cease harassing me with demands for payment?




Yes, obviously you are not obliged to pay for services that you did not agree to. However, if you entered into an agreement with them previously and that contained a carry over provision then they may be relying on that. However, in circumstances where you were required to prove advertisements before they were published and you did not provide that authorisation then you would not be liable for the charges.

Read your agreement with them and if you are convinced you are not liable for the charges, then send a letter of demand to the provider requesting that they cancel all accounts and stop contacting you about unauthorised services and debts and contact your state Fair Trading department.


13 May 2016
I'm having similar problems right now, too, Gabrielle! Sensis is getting away with dodgy sales tactics, unfulfiled promises, refusal to supply supporting evidence of authorisation - and bullying behaviour when it comes to demanding payments for erroneous and unapproved directory content. Probably because they are an American company and - presumably - not answerable to Australian laws and code of conduct with regards to Fair Trading.

I've stopped payments (hence the threatening tactics), but am determined to fight their refusal to provide evidence that their advertising content (containing mistakes), was properly authorised and signed off. Which they can't do because it wasn't.