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.