Saturday, June 22, 2024

ACCC: franchising and misleading behaviour a continued focus

Nearly 5,000 small businesses reported various issues to the ACCC last year, with the most common areas of concern being alleged misleading conduct, consumer guarantees issues and wrongly accepting payments.

The ACCC took seven enforcement actions, including five for alleged breaches of the Franchising Code. It also did 29 compliance checks to ensure adherence with the franchising, horticulture, and food and grocery industry codes.

The ACCC last week launched its ‘Small Business 2017’ snapshot, which gives an overview of its activities within the small business sector in 2017.

“’Small Business in 2017’ gives a good overview of the issues the sector is raising with us, and the concerns that are likely to guide our activities throughout this current year,” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.

“We worked hard in 2017 to protect small businesses to ensure they’re not being unfairly treated, with a number of important firsts. We secured $177,000 in penalties for misconduct towards small businesses, including the first court-ordered penalties for breaches of the Franchising Code.”

Scams continue to be a significant threat, and small businesses need to be on the lookout. In 2017, nearly $3 million was reported lost by small businesses.

“Losing money to scams can be devastating to a small business and in some instances lead to them closing their doors,” Dr Schaper said.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2018, Dr Schaper says small business can expect the ACCC to continue its work in relation to business-to-business unfair-contract terms. There will also be a particular focus on Franchising Code of Conduct issues involving large or national franchisors.

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