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Small Business in Focus – Complaints and Enquiries – ACCC Report

Posted on : Friday, 27 January 2017

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released its second six-monthly Small Business in Focus Report (#13) for the period July to December 2016 which indicates  that fewer complaints and enquiries were made by small and medium sized business compared to the previous six months.

 

Made up of 1752 enquiries and 5216 complaints (6968), these figures compare to 2155 enquiries and 5561 complaints (total: 7716) in the 1st 6 month period of 2016.

 

ACCC states of this total of 6968, over 60% of these contacts came from micro-businesses (less than 4 employees). This, according to the ACCC, is not surprising as micro businesses make up the biggest group of business in Australia.

 

The following Table provides a summary of the Complaints received, by reference to their key component.  The Table refers to Year to Date with a note that states"These figures do not correspond to the statistics on the previous page as not all issues are reported on. Complaints not within the remit of the ACCC are also excluded".

 

With respect to Small Business, a table in the ACCC report sets out includes the following COMPLAINTS - by key issue

ISSUE

2016 - 2017 (YTD)

2015 - 2016

Consumer Law related Issues

 

 

Misleading conduct/false representation

735

1435

Consumer guarantees

329

817

Product safety

47

277

Unconscionable conduct

79

180

Unsolicited goods and services

16

102

Other Australian Consumer Law (ACL Issues 

256

516

Competition related issues

 

 

Misuse of market power

95

197

Exclusive dealing

71

162

Other competition issues

58

132

 

The Report also refers to three cases before the Federal Court dealing with breach of the Franchising Code by a failure to disclose director's role of two previous franchisors that became insolvent; breach of theAustralian Consumer Law in dealing with small businesses; and an unconscionable conduct matter involving staff contacting suppliers asking for urgent payments to reduce significant profit shortfalls.

 

The Report refers to the introduction of legislation to amend the misuse of market power provisions under s. 46 of the Competition and Consumer Act: this amendment seeks to prohibit a corporation with substantial market power from engaging in conduct with the purpose, effect or likely effect of substantially lessening competition in a market in which it directly or indirectly participates.

 

It is noted that the introduction of unfair contract protections for small businesses was a major development in 2016 with an indication that the ACCC was contacted about the new provisions 81 times with about 60% involving a complaint.

Source:ACCC Report No. 13 (July - December 2016)

 


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