Skip to content   Skip to footer navigation

Shonky for a scam by any other name...  

shonkys hall of shame 2010
CHOICE staff
CHOICE staff


Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

When a school student was researching the origins of Catholic names for an assignment, she thought she'd struck gold when she came across the website, and registered to access the site. 

In fact, it was the website that had struck gold – or at least a fair few gold-coloured coins.

In what's becoming an increasingly common internet rip-off, buried in more than one page of dense fine print constituting terms and conditions was the not-insignificant observation that the website was in fact a subscription-based service, costing $12 per month for a minimum of one year – and by registering, she'd agreed to pay this. 

She was duly invoiced for $144 by the Indonesian company's Australian "payment agents" – aka its debt collection agency.

While technically, the student perhaps should have read the whole 1500-word terms and conditions document thoroughly, the ACCC takes a fairly dim view of this needle-in-a-haystack presentation of important information that no-one's likely to read. 

Warnings that costs will be charged should be clearly displayed and accessible, or the company risks running foul of Australia's new unfair contracts legislation.

To its credit, the company agreed not to pursue the charges, but not before causing a fair bit of angst for the student and her family.