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Turnbull says energy deal a win for small business … Harvey Norman profit jumps 29% … ACCC rolls out excessive surcharge ban

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull attends the 199th Birthday lunch for the Westpac Banking Group in Sydney, Wednesday, April 6, 2016. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins) NO ARCHIVING

By Dominic Powell and Emma Koehn. 

Energy retailers are set to write letters to close to 2 million customers by Christmas with information about how to compare energy plans by using the government’s energy comparison website.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters after a meeting with energy retailers on Wednesday that the commitment to increase the number of households that will be contacted about price comparisons, from 1 million to 2 million, is a win for households and small businesses, reports AAP. 

“This is a very big breakthrough, and it’s happening here and now. A lot of the things we are doing on energy are long-term, like Snowy Hydro 2.0, but this is helping Australian families now,” Turnbull said yesterday, reports The Daily Telegraph. 

The prime minister has met with energy companies twice in the past month to review practices around pricing strategy amid concerns power prices have been crippling households and SMEs. The first meeting resulted in a commitment for retailers to alert customers when trial prices or special offers are about to end, and what new pricing structures will be.

Harvey Norman profits jump 29%

Profits at electronics and homewares retailer Harvey Norman have increased 29% for 2017, to a record $448.98 million.

The company attributes its successful year to a number of profitable international operations, including retail segments in Singapore and Malaysia, which increased profits by close to 70%.

Additionally, the company’s property section profit increased 46% compared to the previous financial year.

“This is a record-breaking result that once again demonstrates the strength of our integrated retail, franchise, property and digital business spanning eight countries,” chairman Gerry Harvey said in a statement when reporting the company’s annual financial results this morning.

“In an ever-changing retail environment, our model continues to adapt and be resilient.”

ACCC rolls out excessive payment surcharge ban

From tomorrow, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will roll out its ban on charging customers excessive surcharges for using certain debit cards when making payments.

Small to medium businesses will now be restricted in the amount they can charge customers using certain types of EFTPOS, Mastercard, Visa and American Express cards issued by Australian banks. This ban has applied to large businesses since September 2016 and is only now being applied to businesses of other sizes.

“Our message to business is that you are not allowed to add on any of your own internal costs when calculating what surcharge you will charge customers. The only costs businesses can include are external costs charged to you by your financial provider,” ACCC deputy chair Dr Michael Schaper said in a statement.

“Our advice for businesses wanting to set a single surcharge regardless of the type of card their customers use is it must be the lowest of all the payment methods. You can’t use an average of all payment methods or you will land yourself in trouble.”

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