Consumer Thoughts: 2023 Australian Consumer Survey Released

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The 2023 Australian Consumer Survey has just been released and the figures are interesting, with a little over half of all purchases in Australia are now made online compared to 23% in 2016. The concerns of consumers also reflects this online trend as consumers making online international purchases are often unsure about the application of Australian Consumer Law (ACL), and as more and more people are targeted by, and are concerned about, scams.

In mixed positive news, First Nations consumers were 11% more likely than the average consumer to run into problems with purchases or services but also self-reported greater consumer protection knowledge, had greater knowledge on dispute resolution services and were more likely than others to look up information on their rights.

Below is the original media release from The Hon. Stephen Jones MP, Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services (15/12/2023) relating to the ACS’s public release:

The Australian Consumer Survey, released publicly today, has helped sharpen the priorities for Commonwealth, State and Territory Consumer Ministers at recent a joint meeting.

The Survey says there is almost universal awareness of consumer rights in the community, with over 90 per cent of consumers and businesses aware of consumer protection laws. Consumers are also more likely to make a complaint if they feel they were misled or treated unfairly compared to previous Surveys.

However, Australians are worried about the ongoing threat of scams. The survey finds that scams and fraud are the fastest growing problems experienced by consumers, with more than twice as many affected since the survey was last released in 2016.

The impacts of scams are more than financial, with about one third of respondents saying the experience made them less trusting of others and less confident using the internet.

Consumers are at the centre of the Albanese Government’s economic agenda, and the Government has made fighting scams and fraud a priority.

Our world leading National Anti Scam Centre, ASICs fake investment website takedown service, and new initiatives with the banks are already driving down losses to scams by 16 per cent last quarter.

The Survey builds on data collected in the 2011 and 2016 Australian Consumer Surveys and provides valuable insights into existing consumer issues and highlights where more action is required.

Consumer Affairs Ministers agreed on priorities for future work, which includes protecting consumers and businesses by:

  • Cracking down on unfair trading practices, such as subscription traps that make it almost impossible to unsubscribe from a product or business
  • Improving collaboration to combat scams, including standing up the National Anti Scam Centre and consulting on tough new mandatory codes for the private sector; and
  • Conducting further work on the consumer guarantee framework. 

The Government has also announced a new designated complaints function within the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The new function will allow designated consumer and small business advocacy groups to make a complaint about significant or systemic market issues, and require a response to the regulator.

A report on the outcomes of the 2023 Australian Consumer Survey is available on the Australian Consumer Law website.

Quotes attributable to the Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services, the Hon Stephen Jones MP:

“Consumers are at the heart of everything we are doing; from fighting scams to dodgy subscription traps that have a big door in and a little door out.

“This is about protecting consumers, but also building confidence particularly in the digital economy so that businesses doing the right thing can thrive and consumers can feel safe.

“The survey backs in what we’ve already been focussed on and pleasingly shows consumers are thinking about their rights and are more of aware of the laws that enforce them.

”The issues consumers are worried about are the issues the Albanese Government is already taking action on.

“It’s great to work with my colleagues in the States and Territories to ensure we deliver a safer way for consumers and businesses to engage in commerce at all levels of government.”