5.3 Australian Consumer Law Responsibilities
As a Registered NDIS Provider, you must act in accordance with Australian Consumer Law, and the Competition & Consumer Act.
Australian Consumer Law (ACL) governs the interactions between businesses and consumers by:
- Detailing the rights for consumers
- Placing restrictions on businesses.
As an NDIS provider, you must understand your obligations under ACL when supplying consumers with a disability. Failure to do so is breaking the law, and can result in prosecution.
Further information can be found in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission publication “A Guide to Competition and Consumer Law for Businesses Selling to and Supplying Consumers with Disability”.
Under Australian Consumer Law, you are legally required to do the following:
5.3.1 Treat your customers fairly
This means you must:
- Not behave unconscionably when dealing with Participants. Unconscionable conduct is conduct that fails to meet the normative standards of conscience defined by acceptable community values.
- It is important to understand that an assessment of unconscionability focuses heavily on the particular circumstances, including any disadvantage applying to the Participant.
- Provide accurate information about products and services in advertising, packaging and selling channels
- Any statement about your products or services need to be accurate and true.
- Provide remedies when goods and services sold fail to meet the consumer guarantees
Under the ACL, if something goes wrong with a service or product that has been supplied and the guarantee is not met, consumers have a right to a repair, replacement or refund for goods or to have a service fixed.
Comply with the ACL requirements around telephone and door-to-door selling
- There are certain days and times when they must not contact consumers
- Salespeople must inform the consumer of the purpose of the call and the name of the business they represent
- Consumers have a 10 day cooling off period
- Sales people must immediately leave if the consumer asks them to
- Comply with the ACL requirements around unfair contract terms.
A term of a contract may be unfair if it:
- Causes a significant imbalance between your rights and obligations and those of the consumer
- Is not reasonably necessary to protect the legitimate interests of your business (such as unreasonable cancellation policies)
- Would cause the consumer detriment (financial or non-financial) if you tried to enforce it.
5.3.2 Sell safe products
Under the ACL, your business has a number of product safety obligations. These include:
- Taking responsibility for the safety of the goods you supply or sell, and having active policies in place to test the products you sell and detect any unsafe products
- Immediately notifying the ACCC of any reports of death or serious injury caused by the use of products you supply – there are heavy penalties for failing to do this
- Recalling products previously supplied that present a safety risk or do not comply with a mandatory standard/ban.
5.3.3 Compete fairly
When you sell goods or services to consumers, you will be operating in a competitive market. Anyone else, whether a company, individual, not-for-profit etc., selling to consumers in the same market as you will be your competitor.
The Competition and Consumer Act places obligations on businesses, including not-for-profit businesses, operating in competitive markets.
Do not enter into anti-competitive agreements. Examples of anti-competitive agreements include:
- Agreeing with your competitors to charge the same price
- Agreeing with your competitors on which goods or services you will each provide
- Agreeing with your competitors on which geographic areas you will provide products or services to.
Agreements do not have to be in writing, they can be oral. They also don’t have to be formal – it is enough if there is an understanding between competitors that each will act on the understanding.
There are serious penalties for companies and individuals involved in an anti-competitive agreement. Companies can be fined up to $10 million. Individuals can be fined up to $500,000 or imprisoned for up to ten years.
More information on your obligations as a business under Australian Consumer Law can be found at: https://www.accc.gov.au/business