PMP's 'pulp fiction' mess changes gear with ACCC admission

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What a mess! The PMP letterbox delivery fraud dubbed ‘pulp fiction’ by the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ when it broke the story earlier this year, has moved up a gear with the company admitting its deceit to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, writes Peter Coleman.

And while PMP has promised the ACCC it won’t be naughty again, today’s edition of the Sydney daily newspaper carries a comment from former chief executive Brian Evans that his successor, Richard Allely, was “fully abreast of everything”.

There’s not even the suggestion of a slapped risk from the ACCC, but the admission does open the floodgates for possible damages claims from clients … and from shareholders suffering as a result of PMP’s depressed share price.

According to the ACCC, pamphlet distributor PMP Distribution – which is wholly owned by PMP Limited – admitted providing “some of its customers” with reports that included incorrect pamphlet delivery statistics, including claims that deliveries had taken place in some areas when they had not. ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel says the irregularity came to light as a result of an internal audit by PMP Distribution. “When it discovered the problem, it contacted affected customers and approached the ACCC to resolve any Trade Practices Act concerns.”

The ACCC says it has accepted court enforceable undertakings that PMP Distribution will “implement business procedures and processes” to ensure future information providesd to customers is accurate, and will provide the ACCC with an independent auditor's report of the business procedures and processes involved. It also has to “establish and implement” a trade practices law compliance programme.

While the ACCC has accepted that PMP Distribution has cooperated from the outset in resolving the matter, this clearly isn’t the end of it, and questions remain to be asked. Among the, ‘why did Brian Evans leave’, and ‘who knew about the deceit’.

Meanwhile Coles – whose catalogues it was that got pulped instead of being delivered – has new arrangements … and at least there’s some grounds for the belief that the deception was not company wide: Otherwise, why would PMP have printed them in the first place?

Or am I missing the point?

Pictured: How the SMH reported the ACCC announcement
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