Home Technology Regulation Steep rise in SMB concerns raised with ACCC

Steep rise in SMB concerns raised with ACCC

There has been a significant rise in the number of small businesses raising issues of alleged misleading conduct, false representations and consumer guarantees with the competition watchdog, the ACCC, in the second half of last year.

According to a new report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, almost 5000 small businesses contacted the ACCC in the second half of 2017, up from 3700 in the preceding six months.

“Alleged misleading conduct, false representations and consumer guarantees remained the top issues reported to the ACCC by business last year,” ACCC acting chair Dr Michael Schaper said.

“Many of the businesses contacting us are at least ten years old. Despite being well established, there is an obvious need for up-to-date information and advice to deal with various competition and consumer challenges.”

“As business regulation continues to evolve, small businesses are encouraged to learn more about their rights and responsibilities. The ACCC is always working to ensure that information and advice is readily available for business.”

This latest ACCC report highlights a number of recent changes affecting small businesses including competition law reform, the ban on excessive payment surcharges and the new laws for unfair contract terms.

Report highlights include:

  •     From July-December 2017, 4946 small businesses, 279 franchise businesses and 255 agricultural traders contacted the ACCC.
  •     Over 1000 reports related to misleading conduct or false representations and nearly 500 reports related to consumer guarantees.
  •     The ACCC’s online small business resources received almost 750,000 webpage views in the past six months.
  •     Over the last six months, two-thirds of all business contacts to the ACCC were from micro businesses (businesses with zero to four staff).
  •     The ACCC took enforcement action for alleged breaches of the Franchising Code, including court action and penalties against Pastacup franchisor Morild Pty Ltd and issued an infringement notice to West Aust Couriers Pty Ltd, trading as Fastway Couriers (Perth).
  •     The ACCC issued infringement notices to Red Balloon Pty Ltd for alleged breaches of the new excessive payment surcharges laws.
  •     The ACCC took court action against JJ Richards & Sons Pty Ltd, and Servcorp Ltd and two of its subsidiaries for alleged unfair contract terms against small businesses.
  •     The ACCC released an interim report on the competitiveness of prices, trading practices and the supply chain in the Australian dairy industry.
  •     In December 2017 the ACCC released the New car retailing market study – final report which includes a number of recommendations addressing competition and consumer issues in the new car industry.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).