HN execs cop ACCC’s ire

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The Australian competition watchdog, the ACCC, has launched an action against retail chain Harvey Norman and two of its most senior IT executives over alleged breaches of the Trade Practices Act.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) instituted action against Harvey Norman computers and communication general manager John Slack-Smith and fellow C&C executive Paul D'Ambra and 15 Harvey Norman franchises, alleging bait advertising, and misleading and deceptive conduct.

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for the Federal Court in Melbourne on December 13.

The allegations relate to activities that occurred within Harvey Norman Computers and Communications stores prior to the introduction of the GST in 2000.

The ACCC says Harvey Norman conducted national advertising featuring a promotion for GST-related software, saying customers could buy Quicken Quickbooks for $199 and receive $900 worth of bonus software as part of a bundle.

It also alleges that Harvey Norman made misrepresentations about the tax benefits of buying Quickbooks and purchasing digital cameras prior to the introduction of the GST.

The ACCC is seeking declarations, injunctions, corrective public notices, findings of fact, and an independent audit of the Harvey Norman trade practices compliance program.

The commission said the investigation of the incident had begun in July 2000, but had been delayed by a series of related court actions.

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