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ACCC puts focus on small business

Posted on : Friday, 20 October 2017

The first six-monthly Small Business in Focus Report (#14) for 2017 has been released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Based on a revised methodology of reporting its statistical data, the ABCC indicates a decline in reports and enquiries made by small business compared to the previous six months.

 
Made up of 1,503 enquiries and 4,894 reports (6,397 in total), these figures compare to 1,752 enquiries and 5,216 reports (6,968 in total) made in the second six-month period of 2016.

 
The following table provides a summary of the contacts received by the ACCC, by reference to their key component.

 

ACCC contacts by key issue

ISSUE

January - June 2017

July-December 2016

Consumer Law related Issues

 

 

Misleading conduct/false representation

1,429

1,439

Consumer guarantees

643

818

Product safety

81

277

Unconscionable conduct

118

181

Unsolicited goods and services

29

101

Other Australian Consumer Law (ACL) issues

216

205

Competition related issues

 

 

Misuse of market power

187

198

Exclusive dealing

147

163

Other competition issues

116

134

 

In ensuring that small business receives the protection of industry codes, the ACCC continues to pursue matters through the courts including breaches of the Franchising Code as well as infringement notices for failing to provide an audited marketing fund statement, an auditor's report as well as accepting a court enforceable undertaking after a Company failed to adequately disclose that its bundled print and online packages automatically renewed unless cancelled by the customer.

 
Two final areas from the ACCC related firstly to an urging that small businesses review their country of origin labels, where incorrect labels may result in penalties for false or misleading claims; and that both prior to and since the new Business to Business unfair contract terms law came into effect in November 2016, the ACCC has engaged with a number of businesses who have amended their standard form contracts to address ACCC concerns.

 
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. 14 (January - July 2017)