Mango defends business

, posted: 24-Jun-2003 21:38

Australian phone-card vendor Mango has denied any link to two firms facing court action by the Australian competition regulator for misleading and deceptive trade practices, and fears the implied association could ruin its business on both sides of the Tasman.

But information from a local investor, company records and the Commerce Commission indicate the three firms are linked.

Over the last few weeks Mango Pre Paid Calling Cards has taken out ads in newspapers seeking resellers for its product with promises of "estimated turnover [of] $500,000 p/a" and "no previous experience necessary". "High profit margins" are promised, and the business "can easily be run from home".

The ads seek capital investments "from $98,000" for what Mango describes only as a "new telecommunications product".

The ads alerted Auckland investor Peter Clark, who said Mango was connected to Australian firms Global Pre Paid Communications and In-Touch Networks - both facing court action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

In April the Commerce Commission warned people to be "extremely wary about entering into any agreements" with either company. The ACCC alleges the two firms - which sell telephone card vending machines, telephone cards and SIM cards for mobile phones - misrepresented projected profitability, location support and maintenance of vending machines.

Clark paid $90,000 for six vending machines from Global Pre Paid Communications last year but soon found the "promised return rates were a lie".

Having filed an affidavit with the ACCC Clark said he "has little hope of ever seeing the [invested] money again".

Commerce Commission fair trading director Deborah Battell said she was aware of Mango and the connection with Global Pre Paid. The commission was liaising with the ACCC but was "not yet aware of any allegations of breaches of the Fair Trading Act". Battell said anyone affected by Mango's activities should contact the commission.

Herald investigations indicate Mango operates from the same building in Sydney as Global Pre Paid Communications.

Internet domain registration data shows shares the same office address, with "In-Touch Networks Pty Ltd (Adam Bowman)" recorded as the organisation name. Promotional literature shows both firms operate the same email address -

Registered in Christchurch, Mango Telecommunications' sole director is Susan Vial who shares Global Pre Paid Communications' Sydney phone number. A search of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission database shows Vial was a director of Global Pre Paid Communications in November 2000. But she said she was "in no way connected to Global Pre Paid Communications Pty Ltd or In Touch Networks Pty Ltd".

Sydney-based Mango consultant Jason Burton affirmed there "is no connection between Mango and Global Pre Paid Communications", but added that he and other Mango consultants had worked for Global Pre Paid Communications in the past.

Burton said he was concerned the implied link between Mango International Calling Card and Global Pre Paid "will ruin our business". Mango was selling different products to those Global Pre Paid sells, he said.

Copies of Mango promotional material obtained by the Herald confirm this, but also make references to "phone card and vending machines, together with retail store outlets, ensure our success with our new distributor in New Zealand".

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The problem with naming and shaming

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