The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) together with Australian Securities and Exchange Commission and various state and territory consumer protection agencies have released a number of guidelines relevant to small businesses including:
- Unfair contract terms – a guide for businesses and legal practitioners;
- Avoiding unfair business practices – a guide for businesses and legal practitioners;
- Consumer guarantees – a guide for businesses and legal practitioners; and
- Sales practices – a guide for businesses and legal practitioners.
The unfair contract paper provides guidance on matters such as: what is a consumer contract and what is a standard form contract, what to do if there is a dispute about a contract in standard form, and what constitutes an unfair term in a contract.
The guide on avoiding unfair business practices provides helpful advice as to what constitutes misleading and deceptive conduct, false and misleading representations, and also unconscionable conduct. It also covers other topics such as misleading representations, testimonials and consumer guarantees.
The consumer guarantees guide offers advice on what constitutes a consumer guarantee and to what extent those guarantees extend. It goes further to deal with the methods of addressing disputes when there are problems with goods acquired by consumers, issues concerning quality or fitness for purpose and dealing with repairs, amongst other topics.
The guidelines on sales practices covers topics such as what are unsolicited supplies and dealing with requests for payments for such supplies, pyramid schemes, pricing, laybys, referral selling, warranties, refunds and repairs, etc.
These guidelines are a useful reference point and we recommend reviewing them if these matters may impact your business. Further information on these guides and many others can be found at the ACCC website.