Allan, a director of a small business, thought he was being offered a free meal deal for high-end Sydney restaurants. After receiving a phone call out of the blue, he agreed to see a salesperson from the Food and Accommodation Guide who promised him a two for one meal deal at the restaurants in the Guide by using the discount card.
During a rushed presentation Allan was told that membership was tax deductible if he joined under his business name, and could be paid in a few monthly instalments.
Allan was also told that every restaurant in his local area was in the Guide and that it was transferable. He agreed to purchase the membership, filled out the paperwork and shortly received the Guide, the discount card and was billed his first monthly instalment.
Allan gave his business partner Joe the card to use at a local restaurant but Joe found that the card was not accepted there or even heard of by the restaurant. Allan then tried many times to contact the company and cancel his membership as they had been misled. He was told cancellation was not possible and that he should have read the contract before signing.
Fair Trading followed up the case and armed with affidavits from Allan and many other disgruntled consumers, took the company to the Supreme Court. In the NSW Supreme Court the company eventually agreed to refund a number of consumers who had complained to Fair Trading and also agreed to stop engaging in the illegal and dishonest conduct associated with the card. Allan has since received his membership refund in the mail.