Kathy Marika, a 60-year-old who worked for Bangarra Dance Company, was offered hundreds of dollars in retail vouchers to convince her to hand over contact details of family, friends, and colleagues, as part of an aggressive push to sell funeral insurance that she didn't want.
Even though Ms Marika explicitly told one of the salesmen from Let's Insure she did not want funeral insurance as she already had some, she was called back anyway and later was persuaded to take out cover for herself, three children, and five grandchildren.
Recordings of the repeated calls that Ms Marika received were played to the royal commission on Wednesday, as it probed the high-pressure sales tactics used by Let's Insure, a Sydney business that sold funeral policies on behalf of St Andrew's insurance.
The Bank of Queensland owned St Andrews until it announced it was selling the business in April this year.
In 2015, Ms Marika, a Yolngu woman from north-east Arnhem land who now lives in Orange, received a call from an agent, whose name was suppressed, offering her a "free comparison."
Ms Marika told the commission hearing in Darwin on Wednesday that English was her second language and she thought the call was a survey.
Later that day, another agent called her back and she repeatedly made it clear she didn't want a second insurance policy. "I can't do it again, you know, I can't have two," she said.
READ MORE: Funeral insurer hired 'no experience'
The salesman replied: "Yeah, so , that's what we're doing. So that's actually what I'm telling you. We can actually help you cancel that policy."
Again, Ms Marika said she didn't want more funeral insurance. "No, I'm happy with the other one," she said, shortly before the call ended.
But two weeks later, there was another call, and this time the salesman kept her on the line for 38 minutes.
“I told them that I didn’t want it. I told them I already had one, but they seemed to be really pushy asking me to say 'yes',” Ms Marika said on Wednesday.
Ms Marika, who stopped working in 2015 because of a back injury, said it was especially important for people to give her time when they spoke in English because she needed to translate it in her head.
Ultimately, the company signed her up for funeral insurance for herself and family. Later that month, the agent called her back asking for names and contact details of anyone else she knew, with the promise of vouchers.
"Yeah well if you want to have a look through your phone book, look, um I'll just take down everybody's name and number, and could ring them all today, and then you never know, if you've got like 30 of them, you get $600!," the agent told her.
When Ms Marika called to cancel her policy, the business made her wait until a "customer service" staff member could call her back. This staff member convinced her to keep the policy on the promise the next month would be free.
It was not until March 2016 when Ms Marika approached Legal Aid NSW for help, that the company agreed to refund $1890.34 in premiums she had paid as an "act of goodwill."
Russell Howden, founder and managing director of BlueInc, which owns the business behind Let's Insure, said there had been a spike in sales of funeral insurance to postcodes with large numbers of Indigenous people in 2015, due to problems in its "referrals" program.
Mr Howden said the calls to Ms Marika were "appalling," and the company blamed the spike in sales to Indigenous people on incentives for staff that included a Vespa scooter and a three-day cruise from Sydney to the Sunshine Coast.
Counsel assisting Rowena Orr QC asked Mr Howden if aggressive sales tactics were another cause, and he replied it had "pushed our agents”.
"All call centres will have productivity targets, and it's regrettable that, as a result of this, this spike happened," he said.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.