The Community Network Australia – BUYER BEWARE

Posted by on Sep 24, 2013 in Business Tips | 61 comments

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On 27/10/2011 I had a representative from The Community Network Australia Digital Advertising Network drop in to sell me one of their video ad packages. Basically they create a video ad that appears on screens in places like gymnasiums and doctors’ surgeries throughout the day.

My experience was that in just under 2 years, paying $136/mth I didn’t have any leads or new customers. Apparently I’m not the only one who had that experience.

http://www.notgoodenough.org/viewtopic.php?p=330337

So I checked the contract and the period was 2 years – from 27/10/2011 to 27/10/2013. I called (sep 2013) and said I wanted to cancel my contract – thinking that I would be cancelling before the contract renewed for another year. The receptionist said I would need to speak to Jodi but she was on a break and a message would be given to her so she could call me. She didn’t call.

I rang again the next day and this time she was ‘on the phone’. I was again told she would be given a message to call me. I said ‘okay – make sure she does though as she didn’t call when I left a message yesterday’. She didn’t call.

The following Monday I called a third time. Same story – you need to talk to Jodi but she’s on the phone. I said if she doesn’t call within an hour I’ll be calling my bank to tell them that Community Network won’t allow me to cancel and I will stop payments. About an hour later I received a call.

Jodi informed me that yes, I could cancel, but the balance owing on my ‘contract’ was $3110.24. She then informed me that I had initialled the clause at the bottom of the contract that says:

“I fully understand that this is an automatically renewable advertising services agreement as per clause 9 of the terms and conditions & not the sale of goods.”

I agreed that I did initial that clause.

I then looked at clause 9 and it says (difficult to read – in very tiny print):

“If the advertiser does not wish for the Services to continue after the expiry of the initial advertising period the advertiser must serve notice in writing by registered mail to that effect to the company no later than 12 months after the date on the agreement failing which this agreement will become a 12 month rolling contract at the same yearly value as overleaf plus artwork/production charge which may only be terminated by either party upon 12 months written notice which must be given to the party in accordance with clause 16 and which must be expressed to expire on either the date 12 months after the last day of the initial advertising period or any anniversary of the date 12 months after the last day of the initial advertising period.”

Clause 16 says:

“No notice to the company will be binding,valid or effective unless sent by registered mail to the company’s registered office…”

First Important Point

I should have been WAY more careful reading the contract before I signed it. I’m sure their representative pointed out that the contact would renew after the initial period. I’m also 100% sure he DID NOT point out that the only way I could cancel was in writing, by registered mail, AT LEAST ONE FULL YEAR before I actually wanted to cancel.

Second Important Point

This contract locks customers into purchasing additional advertising that they do not need or want by imposing a ridiculous cancellation requirement. Think about it – must cancel 12 months before the anniversary – so if I were to cancel in November 2013, Community Network will ‘renew’ the contract for the 2014-2015 period, so the cancellation will not take effect until October 2015.

In Summary

Overall I found this advertising to be completely ineffective and, due to their contract terms, much more expensive than I ever envisaged. I know I’m not the only person who finds this type of contract grossly unfair to the customer.

BUYER BEWARE

 

Update

After my initial contact with these people I received an email with the outline of what I signed up for and what my obligations are.

Oct 27 2011 – signed for two years until Oct 27 2013 – cost $3500.20. Because I didn’t cancel by Oct 27 2012 (a year before the initial contract ended) my agreement was automatically extended to Oct 27 2014 and an additional $1750.10 was added to my bill.

They also indicated that they would accept my email as a notification that I do not want to renew. How magnanimous!

So now the agreement will end on Oct 27 2014 but in order to pay this out at the current monthly rate I will be paying for a further 21 months.

 

61 Comments

  1. I have just discovered I have exactly the same problem.
    I gave what I thought was 6 months notice to cancel my account… only to be told that my contract was to continue another 18 months after I advised cancellation!

  2. Thanks for the heads up! Was contacted by this company to advertise at a local hospital, after agreeing to see the sales rep for a presentation I was contacted again to say that the decision to advertise with them required a Yes/No immediately after the presentation. This definitely got me suspicious and after a quick search I found this site and a few others. Checked out their contract and yep, auto-renew and a 12 month cancellation. So Thank you for saving me thousands of dollars and a whole lot of legal wrangling!

  3. Same story here. I never provided them the artowork or anything but they started to charge me invoices everything and told them to cancel my contract but instead of cancelling, they started to send me letters saying you are signed for 2 years contract. The sales rep named Rohit Aggarwal who signed me up for this contract said i can do it for 3 months only.
    And in this month once i told them again to cancel my contract, they referred my business to Debt collecting agency for recovery?

    What kind of justice system is this?

    Who to complain?
    Where to go?

  4. This company has clipped us as well– My solicitor advised me that they seem to have structured their whole client engagement operation on carefully managed (legal?)steps designed to capture the unwary.
    If you tell them to stop they just ignore you– hidden clause — if you don’t approve the advert layout they can go ahead or you want to terminate they can go ahead regardless — first we knew was when we saw an ad that we knew nothing about advertising our business– crappiest thing you ever saw but they are charging us for it — needless to say not one customer from the ad either.

    BEWARE!!!

    • To All…

      We are from Cairns Qld. By tomorrow we are ready to complaints in QCAT. because of the same reasons dirty structure of the company…Kindly lets us know if you are interested to complaints also againts this dirty company..

      Thank you..

      Rf

      • Hi rfoody and others,
        I’m having the same issues and would be willing to support a joint action against this company. I have already contacted a lawyer and the ACCC. with enough numbers a lawyer would be prepared to take this on. I stopped making payment s to this company nearly 1 year ago and have recieved a notice from their debt collectors which I am not complying with. Please reply your thoughts …Andrew

        • I also have been conned into signing with this company. My husband is getting in touch with ACCC tomorrow to see what can be done. Please keep us informed of any developments. I would be more then happy to add to your numbers for a lawyer to do so ething about this company.
          Anna

          • please put any feed back up on this wall. It would be good to see this company and its deceitful practice against honest business stopped

        • Great Andrew i’m on board… I am having exact same issue, i have lodges with the fair trading swell..

        • Another disgruntled business owner due to shabby treatment and performance. Please contact me if you go ahead with any action. I’m in.

        • Hi Andrew just wanting to know how you went with this as we maybe interested. I am refusing to pay and I think we maybe seeing a debt collector soon !!!

      • Just wanting to know who to contact I would be interested to join and I know of a couple of other local business who also may be interested

      • Hi – I have just been tricked into signing a contract as well… Have you had any legal luck?

  5. I also got burned by this company. The sales rep told me that if I signed the contract, I was guaranteed to be the only business for my industry at the medical centre I was advertising at. This was the only reason I signed.

    After my advertisement was published, I saw that there were other businesses in my industry advertising at the centre.

    I was lied to by the sales rep. Checking the fine print (clause 7) confirms that, yes, the sales rep will lie to you and cnet will not honour the rep’s promises.

    • We have the same issue with having another mechanic advertise at the same location and often seeing the screen at the site not even plugged in.
      That is a breach of contract. I’d be happy to join a class action in Victoria.

  6. They also rip off the telesales crew working there. I am still owed $1000 in commission from these pricks from Northern England. I only did a couple of weeks with them, but I had a lot of feedback from business owners about The Community Network Australia while working the phones. It wasn’t pretty!

  7. same as everyone else, 12 months in advance and the fine print says it will now be 2 more years coz I was a week late or some bullshit

  8. We too have been embarrassingly sucked in to this company. I will be ‘in time’ to cancel the contract from going into another two years, but can you send a registered letter to a post office address? Where do you find the address to send the registered letter to? I have found the whole process so stressful, and like so many others the ‘approved’ advert didn’t make the light of day, only the poor development they had done themselves. This misrepresents our business with incorrect and misleading information, not to mention putting up our home address IN the advert!!!

    • There address is in small print on the inside, very bottom of your org document that you sign with the sales rep

    • es i had my advert put up with the wrong business name and without my approval… they have answers for everything but i tried to cancel a year ago and they did not do it..

  9. Unfortunately another sucker to add to the list. We’ve only just asked for our agreement to be cancelled and refunded today after signing 2 months ago. But now having read about these other experiences I don’t have very high hopes that anything will come of it. We haven’t actually approved a design yet, its very hard to get through and speak to anyone in person at this company, they don’t respond to phone messages or emails. The only thing they made sure of was that our account was charged immediately and then they seem to have disappeared.

  10. yes agree with all of the above. They are also plying their scam in Victoria. I am asking for a copy of the original contract as i believe it is different to the copy i was given and excluded item i had the rep add.this would be a good forum that i will be saving and if a class action to stop these people is required then so be it.

  11. I am having the same problem, i was told by the rep my salon would be the only salon on there and so on which was a lie… am in the process of taking this to Fair trading as i tried to cancel this contrat last year but they seemed to not listen and a lady yelled at me… It is a lot of money, Had adds put up without my approval… DO not Advertise with th C- Network

  12. I have the same problem with this people. My wife was conned in signing the contract promising were the only business of that type to be advertised which is not true. We tried to cancel but were told that it’s not possible and we have to pay the remaining months. $ 194 a month for 2 years and not one patient came to our surgery saying they saw the add from that screen !!! Totally ineffetive !!! they are scammers .

  13. I am another who got sucked into this [should have known better]. Took 3 months before I even saw my add, hideous as it was, would not accept it, took another 2 months before that was fixed, never even spoke to my assigned graphic artist, [which in their contract says I would have 1]. The hospital is not running adds as the system is down [a very long time]. Still have no idea if it’s running anywhere, over $2000 down the drain. Signed up in Nov.2013, have a hugh reminder to cancel which I an going to do in October and in November 2014 to cover all the basis, by registered mail, phone and email. Non responsive in all aspects. Want to see this company come undone big time.

  14. I to had a long and painless experience with these scammers. We were never ever told about the rolling contracts. Very hard to contact when I wanted to complain!! very quick to take my money. Bottom line – cancel all payments, let them threaten you as they did me. I took legal advice. never heard another word from them.

  15. Yep, another small family business owner sucked in here :-(. Would love to join in any legal/official action against this reprehensible outfit. $3500 total waste of money. Was promised the advert location we wanted and then months later said they couldn’t deliver it and placed us at their discretion at another much inferior location. Tried to get out of contract or reduce it but no way. This company is a disgrace. There must be something we can do – if its too late for us then at least for future victims.

    • Do as I did. stop paying them. they will make many threats and even give u a bad credit rating, which is what they did to me. I have spoken to other local business owners who were also “sucked in” and all stopped all payments. They have not met their commitments.

  16. Having worked for this company I can assure you once they have you signature on a contract they couldnt care less about you. This is because they know once youre signed up they have a water tight contract. Sales reps are also told to say whatever they have to to get people to sign. The reason yiu cannot speak to the actual creator of the ad is they outsource to the Philippines for art design and content creation. Again to maximise profits for themselves. Another example of how little regard they have for their clientele. Don’t sign with this excuse of a company, much better of doing a mail drop in your local area.

  17. Just received the debt collection letter from “business to business recoveries”

    I emailed them to cancel, soon after signing the contract as I read some of the fine print.
    Of course they never replied to anything and I had to cancel the credit card to stop the charges by this company and another similar one.

    Someone mentioned that it isn’t possible to send a registered letter to a PO Box anyway. Is that true?

    Anyone know how far the debt recovery people push things? I have heard that if you have a reasonable argument and you hold your ground, they will eventually give up and try to find easier prey?

    Cheers

  18. Add our company on the list of victims. We were aware of the clause but missed notifying them by weeks and now we are being told are up for another $3520.88 and no explanation or justification on what is stopping them ending the service earlier.

    Certainly not interested in repeat business or referrals.

    Our business is based in SA; Can someone advise what is the best QLD department or other avenue I can go to add my support behind ending such bad business behaviour.

  19. Wish I’d googled them before signing up 18 months ago. Over $2500 to get out now.

  20. Yes I’m up for $4,800… What can we do this is crazy!

  21. Make them fight for every cent.

  22. HI Guys,

    Please add me to the ACCC as I have been done just like everyone else.

  23. unfortunately i also got sucked in by the pushy salesman he was deceitful and told me i would not get charged until the ad was made. to this it has been 4 weeks and still no ad

    I have received the following advice: on the contract, and it is deemed a ‘binding’ contract – i.e. – bound to payment on signature.

    Having said that, I have also been advised that given the nature of treatment by the supplier thus far, there may be grounds for termination and damages due to their ‘lack of contractual fulfilment’.

    We are able to pursue this angle if you wish, however legal fees would mount fast. If you win the case, the supplier will be liable, however you will be liable for theirs if the case isn’t won.

    I have learnt my lesson… do not sign anything on the spot without carefully reading the contract especially if a pushy salesman walks through the door…

    • Same. Signed and paid 6th June. Today, 6th October, still no artwork. Am going to ACCC

  24. I am kicking myself now after reading these comments. I only signed up a month ago and I sent the artwork 2 days after signing up. I haven’t heard from them at all. I have tried calling the rep but he didn’t answer his phone. The company has taken my money but that is it no contact at all. I’m starting to worry.

  25. We sent a registered letter 2 years ago terminating the agreement and now they are saying that they did not receive it. So they are going to terminate the agreement in another year. I have just been to the bank and canceled payments coing out of our account. They are not getting one more cent out of us. Pack of scammers. We will be seeing our lawyer I think.

  26. This company are also plying their trade in England. Not only have they tied me into a two year contract but the advertising screen I paid for has only been working for a total of about 2 months out of the last 17 months. They won’t reimburse me but will only credit the months that screen not been working for, by adding months on to the contract. I like others here have never got any business through this advertising as even when ad is up and running it is so bad that my contact details can,t be read clearly from the screen.
    My warning too. Resist the hard-sell salepersons that convinced me to sign up originally.

  27. Our original 2 year “contract” is about to expire in a week or so. Three days after I signed up – after reading complaints online and then the contract – I sent off a letter via registered post to request cancelling my contract on expiration. I emailed them a few days ago requesting confirmation of cancellation (with a copy of the original letter) and they told me they never received the first letter and my contract would continue for another year unless I could get the letter tracked by Aust Post!!

    Luckily we’ve just found our reciept for the registered post letter in our taxes!!
    THE COMMUNITY NETWORK AUSTRALIA cnetwork.com.au appear to have tried to scam us!

    Their registered office: Level 3, Pivotal Point, 50 Marine Parade, Southport QLD, Australia.

    If you have been unfortunate enough to sign up with this mob, MAKE SURE YOU KEEP YOUR REGISTERED POST RECIEPT – and get confirmation!!

  28. Yep!!! Sucker here!! Signed on three months ago and am still waiting on advertising proofing. Today they assured me my emailed contract termination after the 2 years is valid. I’m still going to my solicitor to have everything checked in the contract. Customer service then told me it’s the clients responsibility to read the contract, not their responsibility to disclose this information in the first consultation. What a great attitude to have in regards to great customer service. I was also told they have over 4000 happy clients and the google complaints I have read are a minority. What a bunch of bananas. Shameless sales techniques!

  29. i rang, rang, and rang, swear , swear , swear and then they rang back they are exactly crook!!!
    Be aware they are ripping off people, They were going to put my adver. in Mcdonald ( it was 4 months ago ) they sent me job which my 10 year old son can do better than this. i just cancelled the visa card and took my money back from the bank, they took my $500, Has been good lesson never trust people like them. After fight with those people they decided to give $500 refund.(Paul Simpson operation manager sent me an email)
    i dont trust them but we will see..
    What can i say just swear at them i think they enjoy it and works very well on them !!!!

  30. We are a small family run business and have been bitten by the “rolling contract”. I received an email over a month ago informing me my advertising location was to change somewhere else. I told them the new location was highly unsuitable and could they please contact me to discuss ending the contract. Weeks later we never heard and I called again to try and get some answers. I was told by the very rude receptionist that I could not speak to the Manager as he was away and hung up on. We have tried calling again many times but no answer. To cut a long story short we are stuck and are tempted to cancel our credit card but fear a bad credit rating against our company.

  31. Goddamit, I got suckered too! Maybe we should start a class action?

  32. There’s also this page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Community-Network-Scam/259276484282775

    At least we may be able to help stop others from falling for it.

  33. As a follow up to my original reply to this blog in January, I too have been hit with the Business to Business debt collectors, they’ve even started sending mail to my parents and any old addresses of mine they can find (in a fully sealed “tear off” envelope). I spoke to the Consumer Protection and as I am a “business” and not a “consumer” my points about their dodgy contract are moot. Though my own solicitor says there’s still the Fair Trading Act, and just “because I’m a business, doesn’t mean I don’t have rights.” At this point I am continuing to refuse to pay them. My solicitor said he had something similar go through the magistrates court and it was thrown out – so they can take me to court for all I care! Let them explain to a magistrate how their contract is FAIR.
    I figure seeing as I’m “not a consumer” it can’t really harm my personal credit rating right? If I have no rights as a “person” how can they tarnish my personal credit rating? ;)

    I’m all up for a QCAT investigation if it goes that way!

  34. It looks like we have also fallen victim to the Community Network and their deceitfull tactics.
    There is a legal term that relates to their behaviour which is unconsionable conduct which is deliberatley misrepresenting what they offer in order to pressure you into signing the contract as the sales rep also conveys a sense of urgency. We are happy to join a class action and have even thought of contacting ACA. The hope is we can warn other businesses.
    I am furious at how deceitful they are as we were sold on the idea that we would be the only workshop at the site our add appears. It was on this basis that we went ahead with the add. Thanks for the heads up about renewal as we had no idea about that one.
    How do they get away with it……We should collectively be able to do something.

  35. Ditto all of the above. My wife and I will not be paying any further money to these scammers having stopped the automatic deduction from our bank account. However we will be doing our very best to put them out of business in Tasmania. No one has mentioned a key player in this scenario and that is the sites displaying the advertising. We contracted 12 months ago to have ads placed at 2 locations in Hobart. Both are at private hospitals. One is up and running, after 8 months, with a faulty non-approved ad and the other is still not operational. We intend to speak to someone in authority at the sites and supply them with our experience and a copy of all the comments above. We will tell them that they will be included in a class action for damages. I believe they will reassess their arrangement and at worse put pressure on the Community Network to address our concerns.

  36. I have just been done by this company as well. My lawyer tells me that I signed it and there is no way out. To all businesses out there – DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES sign up with this company EVER

  37. Please add me to the class action if it goes ahead.

    i am from Victoria and signed up with them in March 2014. Despite sending through what I required to be placed in my advertisement within a few days of signing the contract, it has taken them over 6 months before I was able to approve their work, yet they have been charging me all this time. I have now found out that they have been airing unauthorised work since April; advertisement which was not approved and had incorrect information.

    Please keep me in the loop with the class action.

  38. I HAVE SIGNED A CONTRACT WITH THIS COMPANY IN JUNE 2014. I AM STILL WAITING ON SOME GRAPHICS TO BE MADE UP. I AM SICK OF CONTACTING THEM AND HAVE NOW CANCELLED MY DIRECT DEBIT. I WANTED ADVERTISING NOW NOT IN SIX MONTHS TIME.I THINK THEY ARE A SCAM. I WONDER IF A CURRENT AFFAIRS MAY BE INTERESTED IN THE STORY.I AM A VACUUM SHOP AND WAS SENT A VIDEO OF A DYSON. I DON’T SELL DYSON, IT WAS SOMETHING THEY
    DOWNLOADED TO TRY AND MAKE THE CONTRACT LEGAL. HAPPY TO JOIN A CLASS ACTION.

    • Hi HEATHER BUGG,
      My name is William, I to have signed a contract with these people, and like you still waiting for my art work to be finalized sins 04/07/14. I have been doing a bit of research into this I contacted the ACCC the advice was that they cannot receive payment without giving you a service or a product, section 36 of consumer law , I contacted the ACCC 1300302502 and they advised that they are illegally accepting payment without giving a product or service. The best thing I suggest is to put in place a credit card dispute, if you have payed with Credit card, The Credit card people can retrieve 90 of you payment, it may take some tome but at least your not paying anymore.

      This is a working progress and im still going through checking and researching, Please make your own investigations im not a legal person just trying to help, but I think im on to something, please feel free to contact me, together we might be able to get this crew stopped.

  39. We are in the same position as others… stupid stupid stupid…. We now realise that we will be up for another 12 months and are trying to stop further another 12 months…. We paid on a credit card so i wonder whether we should cancel the card so they cant charge us? I will keep in the loop

  40. I have just found my self in this very same situation with this Company.
    We signed up on the 24/03/2011 for a 2 year term @ $2184.00 + gst per year, with an initial 6 month deposit on signing.
    That payment came out on the 30/03/2011 – then they started taking payments on the 24/04/2011 even though the artwork had not even approved.
    On the contract under the costs section, in small writing, it states that after the initial 6mth pre-payment, nothing further is required until the artwork proof has been supplied – at this point they want the balance of the first year.
    If you were to run by their timelines you would have prepay the first year in the first month of signing.
    It then states that the second years payment is to be paid in full, 6mths after you initially signed your agreement – thus now paying for the entire contract in the first 6mths.
    How can that even be a legal contract term, we refused to pay the balances up front, so they started taking the monthly payments directly off the credit card that we had given them for the deposit.
    In the payment arrangement section in small writing it also clearly states that “Future payments will be collected annually thereafter by direct debit, credit card, netbank transfer or Cheque”.
    If you have not given written permission for them to start taking regular payments, try that angle.
    Also keep in mind that when they keep referring to the anniversary date as the date of signing the contract, this is incorrect.
    Clause 8 clearly states that the “Initial Advertising period” is from the date of commencement of advertising.
    I’m assuming that you all would have received a welcome letter which under the section “Production of Advertisement” section 3
    states that the date that your ad is successfully published to site is the first day of the Initial advertising period which will then run as per the agreement.
    I’m about to start my ranging war with them & after reading & comparing letters & the contract have found huge discrepancies.

  41. Hi all,
    me too. we signed and paid on 6/10/14. nothing, despite artwork and numerous emails asking “what’s happening”
    then some reply when a letter was sent via email requesting money be returned as they had breached the contract. Someone was nice and got the artwork in …….again, and now nothing. phones not answered, emails ignored etc etc.
    letter tomorrow via registered post.
    Small business corp will assist
    ring ACCC who will act if enough of us complain to them call 1300302502
    I’m calling them tomorrow. This ‘company’ is a scam and they need to be stopped.
    Help!!

  42. So, I have now received a letter from Business to Business Recoveries advising me of their

    NOTICE OF INTENTION TO COMMENCE COURT PROCEEDING, SOUTHPORT MAGISTRATES COURT QUEENSLAND

    Let them take me!!
    I still think it’s a bluff – but I guess we shall see shan’t we!?

    • Hi Kerri. Did they provide an ABN or ACN for Business to Business Recoveries? I’d check whether it actually exists as I’m fairly sure it’s illegal to send ‘pretend’ debt collection letters.

  43. We also getting the business to business letters.
    Anyone know if they ever follow through with the threat.
    I couldn’t find any evidence at all online.

    Cheers

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