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Sensis threatens OZtion over fee claims

Telstra-owned Sensis Classifieds, owner of the Trading Post, this week sent a threatening letter to rival OZtion over its use of the word "free to list" on its website.
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Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer on

Telstra-owned Sensis Classifieds, owner of the Trading Post, this week sent a threatening letter to rival OZtion over its use of the word "free to list" on its website.

Click for the full letter
(Source: OZtion)

The Telstra online advertising subsidiary has demanded a response to its request to stop using the terms without proper clarification by 20 August, and in its letter to OZtion said it would "take appropriate action if OZtion continues to make misleading representations about prices associated with its online auction site."

The letter by Sensis (available in PDF form here) claimed possible breaches of sections 52 and 53 of the Trade Practices Act which pertain to misleading advertising. OZtion sent ZDNet.com.au the letter this afternoon.

A spokesperson for Sensis confirmed the letter was legitimate and said the demand came off the back of the ACCC's current focus on the use of the word "free" in promotional materials.

"Sensis is concerned by business' use of the word 'free' without any qualification in their advertising materials, as it has the potential to mislead customers about the true costs associated with a product or service," the spokesperson said in a statement.

"Sensis believes it is in our customers' best interests and the online auction industry's as a whole, for businesses to fully disclose terms and conditions associated with their advertising promotions."

However, OZtion founder Phil Druce disagreed that it had done anything wrong, and has claimed Sensis' own website promotes exactly the same misleading details.

"The terms OZtion uses, 'Free to list items' and 'You can list items for sale on OZtion for FREE', are fact," Druce said in a statement.

"A quick review of a Sensis online auction site, The Trading Post, sees virtually the same terminology, and certainly the same meaning, used in a similar way when promoting their own services," he added.

Sensis admitted that the Trading Post had neglected to adequately clarify the parameters of their use of "free to list" on at least one of its Web pages.

"[This] will be remedied immediately," said the spokesperson.

Sensis found itself in hot water with the ACCC over the same issues in April, following several alleged breaches by the Trading Post of the same sections of the Trade Practices Act levelled against OZtion on Tuesday.

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