ACCC launches court action against Lifestyle Photographers; Majority of Queensland small businesses support penalty rates reform: Midday Roundup


The competition watchdog has launched legal proceedings in the Federal Court against a business it says took advantage of financially disadvantaged Australians.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission alleges Lifestyle Photographers, trading as Expression Sessions, engaged in misleading and unconscionable conduct when selling photography products between 2012 and 2014.

Expression Sessions operated pop-up stores in shopping centres around Australia. 

The ACCC alleges the company offered prospective customers free photographs of their children without entering into a contract, despite requiring customers to do exactly that in order to receive the photographs.

ACCC commissioner, Sarah Court, said in a statement the competition watchdog takes these sorts of issues very seriously. 

“The conduct of concern allegedly targeted some of the most vulnerable groups in the Australian community, including customers who were in considerable financial distress or who had a limited capacity to understand commercial contracts,” Court said.

“It is important that businesses are upfront with consumers and clearly explain the price of the goods and services they are offering. Consumers need to be able to fully understand what they are agreeing to before making a decision to enter into a contract.”
Majority of Queensland small businesses support penalty rates reform

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland will today give evidence to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into the workplace relations framework based on its findings from a survey of 400 small businesses in Queensland.

The survey, which asked small businesses about the commission’s proposed recommendations about an overhaul of the workplace relations, including penalty rates, found the majority supported the need for reform.

When it came to penalty rates, the survey found 80% of small businesses would stay open all weekend if Saturday rates applied all weekend, while 45% of the restaurants, cafes and retailers surveyed which already open on Sundays said they would open for longer if Sunday rates were scrapped.

CCIQ director of advocacy and workplace relations Nick Behrens said the survey findings represented a “unique small business perspective” on the workplace relations framework.

“CCIQ believes the Productivity Commission’s review provides a significant opportunity to recommend a framework that better meets the needs of contemporary workplaces, fosters productivity, and improves competitiveness,” Mr Behrens said. 
“As small business employs two out of five people in the workforce, it is critical that the federal government craft workplace relations policy settings that make it easier for small businesses to employ.”

The commission will also hear evidence that one in two small businesses surveyed do not believe the Fair Work Commission has dealt with a previous unfair dismissal claim fairly or efficiently.
Shares down on open

Aussie shares are trading lower this morning following a poor showing from Wall Street. 

Chief market strategist at CMC Markets, Michael McCarthy, said Australian stocks are unlikely to perform well in today’s session.

“In the first full session response to the US Federal Reserve’s ‘no change’ decision European and US traders trashed shares on Friday night, leaving futures markets for the Asia Pacific region pointing south,” McCarthy said.

“The Fed’s highlighting of global weakness and laundry list of economic concerns have named investors’ most dreaded concerns while adding to uncertainty – a recipe for share market selling.”

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was down 2.68%, falling 135 points to 5035.5 points at 11.57am AEST. On Saturday, the Dow Jones closed down 1.74%, falling 290.16 points to 16,384.58 points.

Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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