Published on Jul 27, 2015

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) logged more than 5,000 complaints between January and June 2015 according to a recently released report.

The Commission’s Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper launched the tenth edition of Small Business in Focus – a report chronicling small business and franchising complaints – at the Council for Small Business Australia national summit in mid-July.

The report analysed data collected between January and June 2015 and showed a significant increase in franchising-related enquiries, likely spurred by the new Franchising Code introduced on 1 January 2015.

However, Dr Schaper said complaints still accounted for the majority of the roughly 7,500 consumer contacts to the Commission between January and June 2015.

“Misleading conduct and false representations remain the most frequently complained about area for small businesses, with over 1300 complaints received in the January to June 2015 period,” Dr Schaper said.

“Product safety issues also concerned small businesses with over 900 complaints in the same period.”

Cessnock City Councillor Bryce Gibson said it’s important for business owners to know where they stand in the eyes of the law.

“I am a business owner and franchisee and I know it can be an arduous task trying to stay up-to-date with all the rules and regulations that come with running a business,” Cr Gibson said.

“I think it’s a good idea for owners and operators to schedule some time each month or quarter – just like we do to complete our BAS and other essential matters – to review any legislative updates and changes relevant to business operations.”

Cr Gibson said staying well informed about rights and obligations ensures commercial activities are carried out with best practice principles in mind.

“It’s not only good for business; it’s good for customers,” Cr Gibson said.

The Small Business in Focus report highlighted the need for business owners and operators to educate themselves about Code requirements.

Dr Schaper said the ACCC’s free online education programs had been a popular way to stay up-to-date, with more than 12,000 combined users in the first six months of 2015.

“Time-poor small business operators need educational resources that are practical, user-friendly and fit around their busy schedules. The positive response to our online programs demonstrates that they are meeting this need,” Dr Schaper said.

About the education programs
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) offers quick and easy online training modules to help small business owners and operators understand their rights and obligations under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

The ACCC training modules cover topics including:

  • Scams
  • Misleading and unconscionable conduct
  • Consumer rights and guarantees
  • Misuse of market power

The ACCC also provides information about franchising.  Current or potential franchisees can register for a free education program delivered by Griffith University, and keep up to date with changes by subscribing to the ACCC’s Franchising Code information network.

Click here to read the full Small Business in Focus report.

Visit the ACCC website for more details and to access to the training modules.