Refugees and recent migrants in Perth trapped in unwanted telecommunications deals is the subject of a joint research project between the Edmund Rice Centre, Mirrabooka and the Centre for Consumer Research at The University of Western Australia.
The study has been initiated by graduate law student Alicia Snyders, a volunteer worker at the Edmund Rice Centre Mirabooka (ERCM), which provides help and support for humanitarian entrants.
"Refugees and recent migrants to Perth have been targeted by telecommunications providers. Salespeople have engaged in high pressure sales tactics and taken advantage of language difficulties and an understandable lack of knowledge about the legal system," Alicia said.
Researchers will investigate complaints made to the ERCM by clients with abnormally high phone and internet bills, many of whom had been misinformed and/or induced into signing contracts that they did not understand.
Examples of complaints include:
- People signed on to packages with little or no explanation of contractual obligations, connection fees, call rates, download limits and additional charges for unnecessary services such as voicemail, call waiting and mobile internet.
- Receiving bills for over $1,000 after being told that charges would amount to no more than $49.00 per month.
- Visits from door-to-door salespeople after 8pm on weekdays.
The project aims to compile a list of recommendations to be given to telecommunications providers, and to establish a practical solution including the possibility of establishing new legislation under consumer protection laws.
The study is being conducted through interviews, which will run from the Centre by appointment. Participants can ‘sign-up' for an interview either by contacting or visiting the ERCM, or by contacting the project manager directly:
Findings will be analysed and a report prepared by Alicia Snyders and Associate Professor Eileen Webb of the UWA Law School's Centre for Consumer Research.