In her address, Delia Rickard noted that issues raised by consumer organisations with the ACCC commonly form part of its priorities for compliance and enforcement. Delia noted that consumer groups have recently raised issues such as funeral services, debt collection, product safety and sustainability which will be considered for future priorities.
Other trends and issues identified by consumer organisations include:
- The health and medical debt service sector; specifically, the increase in consumers taking out loans to pay for medical procedures;
- Food related health claims;
- Consumer guarantees and enforcing consumers’ right to repair, replacement or refund, particularly for consumers who have purchased unsafe cars.
Delia also noted the debate about a stronger right to repair as a way to contribute to more sustainable consumption.
Delia reflected on the work the ACCC has undertaken to protect vulnerable consumers, including its successful action in the Federal Court against company Birubi for selling art it falsely claimed was made in Australia by Aboriginal Australians, as well as its recent authorisation of the Banking Code of Practice, ensuring that the banks live up to the spirit of the recommendations of the Hayne Royal Commission.
The ACCC also continues to progress the Takata airbag recall. People from low socioeconomic areas and culturally and linguistically diverse communities have the lowest response rate to recall notices. ACCC has identified the provision of information through people who have connections within communities, like librarians and religious advisors, as the key to reaching affected consumers. Information must also be blunt and translated to appropriate languages.
Speaking of ways to protect Austrlaian consumers who buy products from overseas suppliers online, Delia said that ACCC is working with the major online product selling sites including ebay and Alibaba in an attempt to get them to sign a product safety pledge and keep banned products off their sites.
ACCC also continues to have a focus on energy. Delia suggested service providers should not place the responsibility on the consumer to research their rights and service options. Instead, consumers should be told when there are cheaper or more appropriate options available.
Ms Rickard said that ACCC would continue to consult with consumer organisations to ensure vulnerable consumers remained a priority of much of ACCC’s work.