Broken heart costs $20,000
A TWEED Heads match-making agency has been fined $20,000 for failing to find a local love-seeker enough potential partners.
Hearts United International Consulting Services Pty Ltd was ordered to pay the fine in Southport Magistrates Court on Friday.
The company, whose director did not appear in court, was found to have breached seven counts of the Introduction Agents Act after the magistrate heard of one man’s ordeal in trying to find a potential partner.
Queensland Fair Trading Minister Peter Lawlor said the complainant felt “ripped off”.
“The agency was meant to have provided one introduction to a potential mate each week for six months,” Mr Lawlor said.
“Instead, the hopeful single only got four introductions in total across six months, which is nowhere near what they were promised.”
Mr Lawlor added that the complainant had signed up over the phone and supplied credit card details for his membership, which cost $1650.
“The introduction agent made its first mistake by taking money off the person’s credit card without getting their proper authorisation in writing,” he said.
“On top of that, they were not supposed to have taken out the full amount upfront. No more than 30 per cent or $495 (on contracts over $500) can be taken by an agency for a deposit – but they flouted that rule too.”
Mr Lawlor said the agency had also failed to provide a pre-contractual disclosure statement and an adequate written agreement about the terms and conditions of its service.
“The company refunded the money a year-and-a-half after the agreement first started. That was after five requests from the complainant and intervention by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT),” Mr Lawlor said.
“This behaviour is not acceptable.”
Mr Lawlor said the OFT would pounce on introduction agents who did not play by the rules.
Hearts United International Consulting Services declined to comment when contacted by the Tweed Daily News yesterday.