ACCC Puts Shonky Phone Deals In Its Sights

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) enforces consumer law in Australia. What are its key targets for 2012? Protecting vulnerable consumers (including the elderly and remote indigenous Australians), ensuring phone sale contracts don't get more complicated, keeping a close eye on the NBN and stopping companies using the carbon tax as an excuse to raise prices.

Picture by Ed Yourdon

In a speech yesterday to the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, ACCC chairman Rod Sims outlined the key aims for the organisation this year. One area of focus will be on how prices change when carbon tax rules become law mid-year:

The ACCC has been pointing out that firms can increase their prices at any time. What they can’t do is mislead customers by attributing a price increase to carbon when this is not the case. This falls squarely within misleading and deceptive conduct, and we will not hesitate in taking action where it’s warranted. People should not be pressed into accepting a price rise they might otherwise question.

While we're still waiting to see if proposed new rules around mobile phones will be adopted, the ACCC is closely watching the sector:

The ACCC will also examine closely the telecommunications sector. This is because there is increasing complexity of products that bring with it additional ways that consumers can be misled about what they are purchasing.

Since the beginning of last year, Australia has had nationally consistent consumer protection laws, which eliminate state differences in policy and regulate activities such as telemarketing and door-to-door selling.


Comments

    The ACCC is watching companies and making sure that they don't use the Carbon Tax to raise prices??? WHAT A JOKE!!!

    Companies have already started increasing the cost and using the Carbon Tax for the reason. Great work ACCC

      read the article carefuly, it states that they can't attribute price rises to the carbon tax if this is not the case. Many companies need to increase prices because they are recieving physical product, so at the very least, an increase in price to make up for their receiving the product will happen. For something like phone service, far less (if anything) is going to be reliant on things that use fossil fuels that the company itself has to pay for, so they can't claim that the carbon tax is the reason for the price increase. (buying a handset from a physcal supplier might be a reason, but the service itself not so much)

      The point is that if your company raises it's prices they need to be honest about why. If they raise the price and say 'It's because we are a greedy disgusting corporation and we don't care about our customers' your likely to go elsewhere immediately. However if they say that its 'due to increased costs resulting from the carbon tax' your more likely to stay on and wear the cost.

      The ACCC is trying to stop them doing the latter if it's untrue.

    The ACCC is doing what they can with the little resources they have. All things considered, they do a good job.

    The reason the carbon tax won't do anything is that everyone will raise their prices - there won't be a single player that doesn't, therefore the supposed free-market force of competition which *should* keep prices down just won't operate, at least as long as sustainable energy sources are at or above the price of fossil-fueled energy.

      Free market? Where?

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