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CALC calls for economy wide phone sales ban

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The Consumer Action Law Centre (CALC) is calling for a blanket ban on unsolicited sales calls across the economy, following the CommInsure hawking case.

The insurer was fined $700,000 after it pleaded guilty to 87 counts of hawking, in which telemarketing firm Aegon Insights Australia tried to sell the Simple Life product to customers via unsolicited phone calls.

The charges carried a maximum total penalty of $1,848,750. The sentence takes into account the bank’s early guilty plea. Its scheme to compensate about 30,000 customers will cost it about $12 million.

The regulator says the insurer failed in all 87 calls to give customers the option of having product disclosure statement (PDS) information read to them, while further documentation disclosure failings were reported in 14 of the calls.

CALC Senior Policy Officer Cat Newton reiterated the organisation’s concerns over cold-calling tactics, which she says pressures people into buying unsuitable or worthless insurance.

No one can reasonably assess insurance needs in a 10-minute unexpected phone call, she says.

“It’s too easy for companies using clever tactics to exploit loopholes in the anti-hawking laws to flog low-value products. It’s not just cold-calling of life insurance, there are ongoing problems with unsolicited online contact, door-knocking and cross-selling,” she said.