The region’s tourism operators are being urged to remain cautious as some have recently been hit by unsolicited bills for listings or advertising they hadn’t ordered.
Recently, misleading emails have been sent to operators within SA and nationally from a company called ‘Special Days’ for its South Australia Travel website.
Regional tourism manager Cathy Wills said the company was purporting to be a bona fide tourism website seeking renewal payments for tourism operator listings.
“If you just scanned your email and were listed on several tourism sites, it would be easy to think ‘oh, I haven’t paid’,” she said.
“Barossa operators should be aware that a listing on southaustralia.com is free.
“These guys (Special Days) are trying to slip under the radar; they create a dummy listing then send an email to say your listing is due for renewal, even thought they’re not contracted.”
When the Herald contacted “South Australia Travel”, an administrator said the website “don’t send out emails” unless someone had subscribed to the listing and in that case, would “only email once a year to update details”. Local tourism operators, however, said they had received unsolicited emails urging them to update details and pay a subscription renewal.
A state government spokesperson confirmed tourism operators had received emails from South Australia Travel advising the operators’ listing was up for renewal.
“Recipients are to be aware that these emails have not been sent by the South Australian Tourism Commission,” they said.
“South Australia Travel is the trading name of Special Days, a company based in Queensland. The SATC has previously sent out advice regarding the potential for unsolicited invoicing and advising that tourism operators should carefully check an invoice before any payment is made to any supplier.”
In response to the most recent activity, the SATC has been in contact with Consumer and Business Services and the Office of Fair Trading in Queensland.
Those who have received unsolicited invoices from Special Days can lodge a complaint directly with the Queensland Office of Fair Trading, fairtrading.qld.gov.au/lodge-your-complaint.
Earlier this year, a Brisbane woman was fined $50,000 in the Southport Magistrates Court, following an investigation by the OFT.
The woman pleaded guilty to a total of 166 counts, including sending another person an invoice for unsolicited services, and making false and misleading representations. She was personally fined $10,000 and three corporations of which she was sole director were fined a total of $40,000.
The court heard her businesses, Accommodation Find Pty Ltd, Internet Find Pty Ltd, and Special Days Pty Ltd, sent unsolicited invoices to several businesses nation-wide requesting they pay for services that were never requested, or authorised. The invoices included words which implied that a previous relationship existed with the victims.