Delays and complaints mount as national Business Names Register continues to struggle

Businesses are continuing to experience problems and delays with the national Business Names Register, five months after its launch.

The register is administered by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission and businesses claim the requirement to provide an address for home-based businesses raises significant privacy concerns.

Other concerns are the 28-day time lag between applying for registration of a business name and receiving it, along with delays in accessing the ASIC system.

SmartCompany reported complaints about the national Business Names Register following its launch in May this year. However, shadow small business minister Bruce Billson says the problems are continuing.

Billson told SmartCompany his office has been inundated with complaints from people who have had trouble accessing the ASIC website and registering and transferring a business name.

“We’ve had small business owners, solicitors and accountants contacting us complaining that the implementation of the new system has been completely botched,” Billson says.

“Business sales and transfers have been placed in doubt, private details of home-based business are publicly available and registered businesses appear to be at risk of having their names lifted and localised.”

Billson says some businesses haven’t been able to get through on the ASIC phone line despite being on hold for more than 45 minutes at a time.

Others have had to make repeated registration attempts over two months to achieve an outcome that used to take minutes.

Barbara Gabogrecan, the head of Home Based Business Australia, told SmartCompany she continued to receive “nearly hysterical comments” about the register from her members.

“Because you work from home you don’t want your home address shown to the public and this is why home based businesses get mail delivered to PO Boxes,” she says.

“The real concern is not even so much a privacy issue. It is a safety issue; people don’t feel safe if anybody can just walk to their home.”

SmartCompany reader Danny Smith says ASIC changed two companies that were authorised to use the one business name into a joint venture and his bank then revoked the finance.

“The nightmare is far from over and will cost me close to $1,000 in fees and charges by all parties doing the work for me,” he said.

“Hopefully ASIC will be happy paying the invoice I am going to issue to them.”

ASIC advised Billson that the ASIC helpline ‘wait-times’ were expected to reduce as additional call-centre staff were engaged and trained, and that between 5pm and 7pm was a better time to call the 1300 300 630 helpline.

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