Consumers

ACCC win puts debt collectors on notice

The Federal Court has found one of Australia’s largest debt collection firms, ACM Group Ltd, engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct, harassment and coercion, and unconscionable conduct in its dealings with two vulnerable consumers.

ACM’s conduct was found to be in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law.

The ACCC brought the action against ACM in respect of its conduct between 2011 and 2015 in pursuing two vulnerable customers who had defaulted on their phone bills. Their debts had been on-sold by their service provider to ACM for debt recovery.

ACCC takes action against Europcar for excessive card payment surcharges

The ACCC has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against CLA Trading Pty Ltd (trading as Europcar) for allegedly charging excessive credit and debit card payment surcharges, in breach of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

The ACCC alleges that Europcar customers who used Visa or MasterCard credit cards during July and August 2017 were charged fees above what it cost Europcar to accept those payments.

MyRepublic pays penalties for NBN speed claims

NBN provider MyRepublic Pty Ltd (MyRepublic) has paid penalties totalling $25,200 following the ACCC issuing two infringement notices for alleged false or misleading representations about its NBN service performance.

Between December 2017 and April 2018, MyRepublic marketed its NBN services using statements such as “up to nbnTM100 Speed Tier” and “nbn™50 Speed Tier” on its website.

The MyRepublic website contained fine print disclaimers that the ACCC considered were ineffective as they were not prominent and did not provide clear information.

Correction: Cruisin Motorhomes pays penalty for excessive payment surcharges

Cruisin Motorhomes Pty Ltd (Cruisin Motorhomes) has paid a penalty of $12,600 after the ACCC issued an infringement notice for an alleged breach of the excessive payment surcharge laws in the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

Cruisin Motorhomes operates a campervan and motorhome rental business, with branches in Hobart, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns.

The ACCC alleged that, in January 2018, Cruisin Motorhomes charged Visa and MasterCard customers a 2 per cent surcharge, despite the cost of processing the payment ranging from 0.41 to 1.48 per cent.

Consumers' right to their own data is on its way

The consumer data right (CDR), which will enable customers to safely share their data with trusted service providers is a fundamental competition and consumer reform, ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in a speech at the Consumer Policy Research Centre’s Consumer Data Conference in Melbourne today.

The ACCC will have the lead role in turning the concept of a consumer data right into a reality, including rule-making, consumer education and, eventually, enforcement.

“The consumer data right is essentially a data portability right,” Mr Sims said.

Companies behaving badly?

ACCC Chair Rod Sims delivered the Giblin Lecture in Tasmania today, and shared his observations on company behaviour that drives breaches of Australia’s competition and consumer laws.

“Few companies behave badly often, but rather many engage in occasional significant instances of bad behaviour, which remains unacceptable.”

“It is often said that companies succeed by looking after the needs of their customers. I have been surprised over very many years, however, at the way in which many businesses often do precisely the opposite.”

When and how to intervene in markets

In a speech to the Australian Conference of Economists in Canberra today, Chair Rod Sims discussed the ACCC’s approach to market intervention in our current inquiries.

“Enhancing competition does not mean protecting all market participants from failure, nor does consumer protection extend to shielding consumers from price increases set by the markets.”