21 February 2014

ACCC Compliance Priorities

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released its 2014 Compliance and Enforcement Policy, outlining its priority areas for the year and "the factors to be taken into account when deciding whether to pursue matters".

The ACCC has identified nine consumer protection priorities:
  • activity in the telecommunications and energy sectors including door to door selling and telemarketing, with a particular focus on savings representations, also referred to as “discounts off what?”
  • emerging consumer issues in the online marketplace, particularly drip-pricing and comparator websites 
  • competition and consumer issues in highly concentrated sectors, in particular in the supermarket and fuel sectors
  • the disruption of scams that rely on building deceptive relationships and which cause severe and widespread consumer or small business detriment 
  • complexity and unfairness in consumer or small business contracts 
  • credence claims, particularly those with the potential to adversely impact the competitive process and small businesses 
  • misleading carbon pricing representations 
  • the ACL consumer guarantees regime, particularly in the context of the sale of extended warranties 
  • consumer protection issues impacting on Indigenous consumers. 
ACCC chair Sims commented that
some forms of conduct are so detrimental to consumer welfare and the competitive process that the ACCC will always assess them as a priority such as cartel conduct, anti-competitive agreements and misuse of market power. Just like others other forms of anti-competitive conduct, secondary boycotts can be extremely detrimental to businesses, consumers and the competitive process. Where the ACCC becomes aware of possible secondary boycott conduct, it will investigate.