Red Hot Pie In Red Hot Trouble
Jetplace Pty Ltd, the operator of dating website www.redhotpie.com.au, has been ordered by the Federal Court to disclose that the company created over a thousand of its own profiles on its website.
The 1371 profiles purported to represent actual users of the website who were resident in cities and towns across Australia. The profiles appeared in the 'Uncut' section of the website. Jetplace used some of its own profiles to send flirts or customised messages to some registered users of the website.
The Jetplace profiles also appeared in searches carried out by visitors to, or registered users of, the website.
Following legal action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission the Federal Court has now declared that Jetplace contravened the Trade Practices Act 1974 by engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct and by representing that membership of the website had performance characteristics and benefits that it did not have.
The court further declared that Jetplace directors, Maxwell James McGuire and Mark Semaan, were aware of, and party to, the offending conduct. In addition to the declarations the court made orders by consent restraining Jetplace, McGuire and Semaan, from engaging in similar conduct in the future.
Jetplace was also ordered to:
- publish a corrective notice about the conduct when each guest user of the website who registered between December 2004 and 26 November 2008 next logs on and to send a copy of the notice to the email address of each of those users
- publish a corrective notice about the conduct when each paying user of the website who registered between December 2004 and 26 November 2008 next logs on and send a copy of the notice to the email address of each of those users
- implement a corporate trade practices law compliance program, and
- pay ACCC costs.
The corrective notice to paying users who held accounts between December 2004 and 26 November 2008 includes an offer by Jetplace to provide refunds to those who can demonstrate that they were misled by the conduct into paying for membership of the website.