The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said it will spend 2017 refocusing on investigative means to crack down on consumer guarantees being flauted.
At its National Consumer Congress in Melbourne today, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said consumer regulators were being challenged by disruptive technologies and non-competitive practices by incumbent businesses.
The chairman said 2017 would also see the commission investigate guarantees from broadband providers, airlines and car retailers, among others. Sims also said the ACCC would work with internet platform providers to prevent unsafe products entering Australia.
On the broadband issue, the ACCC has already published a six-principle guide for ISPs to follow, in order to ensure they serve their customers with clear and relevant information when selling services. Further to the six-point guide, Sims said the commission would soon publish a best-practice broadband speeds advertising guide for ISPs.
The ACCC is also expected announce news regarding a broadband monitoring program in the near future.
Sims said the commission would also focus on deepening its methods of regulating in the realm of online traders, scam artists and subscription traps.
The ACCC is set to move beyond traditional areas of consumer guarantees, such as fair replacements and refunds for defective goods, and focus on investigations and actions that test the “extent to which consumers are being directed away from their consumer guarantee rights and remedies in favour of manufacturer warranties”.
“I am continually puzzled as to why some large companies treat their customers so badly, and with so little respect,” he said.
“We are often told that companies will only succeed by meeting customer needs. It is clear that some companies seek to deceive their consumers about these needs.
“Companies also often enter public policy debates making only self-serving arguments. This is why it is vital that the ACCC and Australian consumer groups provide a counter view.”