Misleading claims are a continuing issue for the small business sector, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s latest Small business in focus report launched today by ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper at the COSBOA National Small Business Summit.

This report, the eighth in the series, includes the latest small business and franchising related complaints data, and highlights the ACCC’s work in the small business sector between 1 January and 30 June 2014.

Misleading conduct and false representations continue to be the biggest small business issue, with over 1500 complaints received in the 2013–14 financial year, followed by complaints about consumer guarantees (more than 900).

The ACCC also continued to use a range of compliance and enforcement tools to encourage compliance with the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, and achieved several significant court outcomes during the period that are relevant to small businesses.

The ACCC took action against Coles for claims that its “Cuisine Royal” and “Coles Bakery” bread was “Baked Today, Sold Today” and “Freshly Baked In-Store”. The Federal Court found that these claims were false, misleading and deceptive as the bread products were baked off site and frozen, and “finished” at in-store bakeries.

The ACCC also accepted a court enforceable undertaking from Carlton & United Breweries in relation to ACCC concerns that it represented that Byron Bay Pale Lager was brewed by a small brewer in Byron Bay when this was not the case.

“Small businesses often rely on a unique selling point to compete. If a large business presents a product as having a feature that it doesn’t, this can harm small businesses,” Dr Schaper said.

The ACCC’s online resources continue to be popular. During the first six months of this year, there were more than 300 000 views of the ACCC’s business webpages, and over 6000 users of the ACCC’s three free online education programs for small businesses, tertiary students and prospective franchisees. These online programs are available at www.ccaeducationprograms.org.

“We understand how busy people who run or work in a small business or franchise are. Our online resources are reliable sources of information which people can access 24/7,” Dr Schaper said.

The Small business in focus report is available online.