on air now

‘Obscene’ audio played at banking royal commission could signal a change in cold calling culture

The father of a 26-year-old man with Down Syndrome who was signed up to receive funeral insurance after answering an unsolicited call says he finds the audio of the phone calls difficult and “distressing”.

Reverend Grant Stewart addressed the royal commission into the finance sector yesterday and said his son unwittingly signed up to a number of policies, despite having no concept of what insurance means.

A series of phone calls between a Freedom Insurance agent were played at the hearing yesterday and described by Neil Mitchell as obscene.

At the royal commission, Freedom Insurance chief executive Craig Orton personally addressed Reverend Stewart and apologised to him and his son.

“I certainly appreciated the apology by Craig Orton yesterday,” Reverend Stewart told Neil Mitchell.

He said his son was now apprehensive to answer phone calls from anyone he didn’t know.

“He lost a lot of confidence, because he felt guilty, he felt it was his fault,” he said.

“He didn’t really understand what had gone on, it knocked his self-confidence quite a bit.”

Reverend Stewart said he only listened to the audio of the calls a month ago.

“I’ve been working with Consumer Action Law Centre on this over the last little while, they are adamant there are far too many risks involved with this cold calling,” he said.

“Mainly in the fact they are selling policies that have no real intrinsic value to the customer.

“But more than that, people often don’t understand what they are buying into.”

Click PLAY to hear more on 3AW Mornings

Neil Mitchell: It must really hurt him to hear this audio. But this may be a defining moment in cold calling.