Small business ACCC contacts up by a third

Almost 5000 small businesses contacted the ACCC in the second half of 2017, up from 3700 in the preceding six months, according to the latest edition of the Small business in focus released today.

“Alleged misleading conduct, false representations and consumer guarantees remained the top issues reported to the ACCC by business last year,” ACCC Acting Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.

The report highlights a number of recent changes affecting small businesses including competition law reform, the ban on excessive payment surcharges and the new laws for unfair contract terms.

“Many of the businesses contacting us are at least ten years old. Despite being well established, there is an obvious need for up-to-date information and advice to deal with various competition and consumer challenges,” Dr Schaper said.

“As business regulation continues to evolve, small businesses are encouraged to learn more about their rights and responsibilities. The ACCC is always working to ensure that information and advice is readily available for business.”

The stand-out findings of the report were the fact that:

  • From July-December 2017, 4946 small businesses, 279 franchise businesses and 255 agricultural traders contacted the ACCC.
  • Over 1000 reports related to misleading conduct or false representations and nearly 500 reports related to consumer guarantees.
  • The Commission’s online small business resources received almost 750,000 webpage views in the past six months.
  • Over the last six months, two-thirds of all business contacts to the ACCC were from micro businesses (businesses with zero to four staff).
  • The Commission took enforcement action for alleged breaches of the Franchising Code, including court action and penalties against Pastacup franchisor Morild Pty Ltd and issued an infringement notice to West Aust Couriers Pty Ltd trading as Fastway Couriers (Perth).
  • The Commission issued infringement notices to Red Balloon Pty Ltd for alleged breaches of the new excessive payment surcharges laws.
  • The ACCC took court action against JJ Richards & Sons Pty Ltd, and Servcorp Ltd and two of its subsidiaries for alleged unfair contract terms against small businesses.

The recently updated ACCC report Small Business & the Competition and Consumer Act is a comprehensive guide to the law for small businesses, providing essential information on pricing, unfair contract terms, treating customers fairly, selling safe products and resolving disputes.

The report is available at www.accc.gov.au/publications/small-business-in-focus/small-business-in-focus-1-july-to-31-december-2017.

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