ACCC seeks injunction against e-commerce apps vendor

Three-year-old stoush resurrected as StoresOnline plans to return to Australia

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is seeking an urgent injunction to restrain US vendor, StoresOnline, from selling its e-commerce software in Australia.

StoresOnline had not fulfilled an undertaking under section 87B (s87B) of the Trade Practices Act, following a court action started in mid-2005, the ACCC said in a statement.

"The ACCC alleges that StoresOnline engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct in the promotion and sale of its home business e-commerce software packages," it said.

The watchdog wants to stop StoresOnline, trading as StoresOnline International and StoresOnline Inc, from selling and promoting its line of software in Australia until a court can decide whether the vendor had violated the Act.

StoresOnline planned to return to Australia to conduct another round of presentations to potential customers from October 15, it said.

"From early October 2006, following the settlement of the earlier proceedings, StoresOnline returned to Australia to run further presentations," the ACCC said.

"In the present proceedings, the ACCC alleges that StoresOnline contravened the s87B undertaking in various ways and occasions during those further presentations."

Justice Tamberlin of the Federal Court on October 5 made various orders about service of the proceedings on StoresOnline and will consider the ACCC's case on October 9 in Sydney.

The ACCC also wants StoresOnline to admit a contravention of the Act and seeks injunctions to ensure that s87B is complied with in future.

Also sought is a fine, compensating the Government for any financial benefit StoresOnline may have obtained by any breach, and an order directing StoresOnline to compensate anybody else who suffered loss or damage as a result.

According to a statement from the ACT Department of Fair Trading, StoresOnline allegedly got into strife by claiming that its software was easy to use even for users with no knowledge of computers or the Internet, that 24-hour support would be provided, that certain services were included for free, and that testimonials were unscripted, independent and spontaneous.

ACT Fair Trading director in 2006, Tony Brown, said at the time in a release that the allegations were based on complaints from members of the public which the Department had investigated.

"We warned people against attending the seminars. We were extremely concerned that people attending the seminars would be subjected to an intensive and persuasive sales pitch for a product that was unproven," Brown said.

"My investigators worked with ACCC personnel to find out the real story of StoresOnline."

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