Spike in dodgy conduct against small businesses prompts ACCC warning


ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh. Source: Supplied.

Businesses have been warned about making false or misleading claims in their dealings with other firms, amid a spike in reports about dodgy behaviour over the last six months.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Monday released the latest edition of its twice-annual small business report, covering off its work with the SME sector and the closely watched who’s-having-a-whinge about what table.

A total 2,433 reports were made to the ACCC by small businesses between July and December 2019, of which 910 related to misleading conduct or false representations — an 8% spike on the previous six months.

The spike was accompanied by a similar increase in the number of consumer guarantee claims made by small businesses.

In other words, the number of small businesses complaining about firms doing the dodge on them is on the rise, and ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh is having none of it.

“We are concerned about the increase in reports from small businesses about false and misleading conduct, and remind businesses they must ensure their representations to both consumers and business counterparts are accurate and honest,” Keogh said in a statement.

“The ACCC will take action when we become aware of misleading and deceptive conduct, especially when that conduct has the potential to result in widespread harm.”

In other news, small businesses reported losing $1.4 million in scams over the six-month period, showing yet again, this is a large sleeper issues without a clear solution in sight.

The ACCC also detailed its recent work policing big business bullies, among them UberEats and Coles, which was caught red-handed pocketing milk money it promised to farmers.

Then there’s franchising: Australia’s scandal plagued sector is still experiencing plenty of reports about franchisors not acting in good faith with franchisees, with 50 reports over the last six months.

“We are continuing our work to educate franchisees that franchising, like other businesses, involves risks and to remind franchisors of their obligations,” Keogh said.

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