Carbon price claims

The Competition and Consumer Act 2010 says businesses cannot make false, misleading or deceptive claims about the price of goods or services. This applies to claims about the impact of the carbon price on the cost of goods and services.

The carbon price

A carbon price commenced in Australia on 1 July 2012. The carbon price applies to certain greenhouse emissions, with some large businesses being required to purchase carbon credits against their emissions.

For more information contact the Clean Energy Regulator on 1300 553 542 or visit the Clean Energy Regulator website.

Your consumer rights

You have a right:

  • not to be misled by a business about the impact of the carbon price
  • to complain to the ACCC if you think you have been misled
  • to shop around for the best prices.

ACCC role in carbon pricing

The ACCC’s role is to:

  • inform and educate businesses about their responsibilities under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 when making carbon price claims, including by providing guidance
  • raise awareness amongst consumers about their rights under the Act
  • investigate and, where appropriate, take action against businesses which engage in practices that contravene the Act.

The ACCC cannot prevent a business from putting up its prices as a result of the carbon price.

However, the ACCC can act against false, misleading or deceptive claims if a business falsely links a price rise with the carbon price.

Example:

A customer sees a sign at the counter of a local shop that states:

‘Due to the carbon price, we have been forced to increase our prices by 15%.’

The customer visits other shops in the area selling similar goods and notices that their prices have not changed. The customer is concerned about the claim made at his local shop and contacts the ACCC Infocentre to make a complaint.

The ACCC investigates the claim and finds that the price increase is due to a number of factors, only one of which is the carbon price.

As a result, the ACCC considers that the claim made by the shop is misleading because it overstates the impact of a carbon price on its business.

Avoid being misled - ask questions

There are steps you can take to avoid being misled about the impact of the carbon price on goods and services you buy.

Do not take claims about price increases due to the carbon price at face value.

Shop around and compare prices

You can often get a better deal by asking questions and shopping around.

Look at what other businesses are charging for similar products and services, and see if they are saying different things about the impact of the carbon price, as you would with any price increase.

Watch out for scams

Be cautious about phone calls or emails:

  • offering to pay carbon price compensation into your bank account
  • claiming you need to pay or transfer money to receive a compensation payment or tax refund
  • asking survey questions about carbon.

These may be scams.

Information about how to protect yourself from carbon price scams is available at www.scamwatch.gov.au.

Domestic building and construction

Businesses must not make misleading or deceptive claims about prices and this includes claims about the carbon price’s impact on building and construction goods and services. If a residential building quote or contract, or even a discussion about prices, links a price rise with the carbon price the claim must be truthful and have a reasonable basis.

There are state and territory laws that regulate residential building contracts. Some jurisdictions may allow construction businesses to include clauses in contracts that take into account increased costs. For more information contact your local state & territory consumer protection agency.

GreenPower

The ACCC and the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) have reviewed information provided by electricity retailers about green energy claims. The information consistently indicates that the cost to retailers of supplying green energy packages would increase as a result of the carbon price. Some retailers have decided to effectively absorb this cost while others have indicated that they will pass on the increase in cost to customers. Accordingly, consumers may wish to shop around for the price and conditions that suit.

See also: GreenPower & energy prices

If you think you have been misled about an impact of the carbon price

Contact the ACCC

Carbon tax repeal

On 15 October 2013 the Government released the Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 (the Bill) for public consideration. The Bill provides a role for the ACCC in respect of the repeal of the carbon tax.

See: Carbon tax repeal

More information

Clean Energy Regulator
Consumers and carbon price claims