The Commerce Commission (Commission) has recently released a snapshot of the complaints it has received in the year to 30 June 2019. A copy of the Commission’s report can be viewed here.
The snapshot reveals the following key points:
- Complaints to the Commission are on the rise. There was an increase of over 1500 complaints made under the Fair Trading Act 1986 (FTA) compared to the previous year.
- The majority of complaints related to telecommunications retail service providers and online ticket reselling services. However, there were also a significant number of complaints in relation to domestic appliance retailers, motor vehicle retailers and the construction industry.
- There has been an 80% increase in complaints relating to online retail, which now makes up approximately half of all complaints made to the Commission under the FTA.
- There were a total of 314 complaints made under the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003 (CCCFA) in relation to debt collection processes, responsible lending obligations, disclosure requirements, and the level of credit fees.
The snapshot provides a timely reminder to all businesses engaged in trade and offering consumer credit of the importance of understanding and complying with the statutory obligations under the FTA and CCCFA. The time and cost responding to complaints made to the Commission can be significant for any business. The cost of getting it wrong and being found in breach of the FTA or CCCFA can be even more significant. Businesses can be liable for penalties of up to $600,000 for each individual breach, not to mention the reputational damage that may be suffered.