The ACCC has released its enforcement priorities for 2020. Here's what's on the radar.
- The funeral industry: The ACCC will investigate allegations that some operators inflate pricing, taking advantage of vulnerable customers. It will also investigate market concentration and a lack of price transparency.
- Digital platforms: Following the Digital Platforms Inquiry, the ACCC is pursuing concerns about the collection and use of personal data and other competition issues.
- Pricing and selling practices for essential services: The ACCC is concerned with price transparency across essential services. It will also look at dodgy selling practices, including in remote Indigenous communities.
- Misleading claims in food marketing: In this wellbeing-focused world, misleading claims about nutritional and health benefits of food are rife. The ACCC is on to it and will be targeting these claims this year, in conjunction with other regulators.
- Commercial construction: A dedicated unit will review competition and poor trading practices in the commercial construction sector, covering small business and large public and private projects. It will also look at ways to overcome whistleblowers' fear of reprisal.
- Small business and franchising: The ACCC has continuing concerns about `questionable industry practices' in the franchise industry. In a classic good-cop/badcop routine, it plans to bring multiple prosecutions, but also work with the government's Franchising Taskforce to seek industry improvements.
- Dairy: The Dairy Industry Code of Conduct came into effect on 1 January. The ACCC will conduct an education phase before moving to stricter enforcement for significant non-compliance.
- Consumer guarantees: Non-compliance with the consumer guarantee rules is the no.1 cause for complaint to the ACCC. The ACCC will drive changes in industry behaviour this year with enforcement and compliance initiatives.
- Product safety - button batteries and Takata airbags: The ACCC will continue its work on safety defects identified in these products, including finalising the Takata airbag recall.
Industry priorities aside, the ACCC is always particularly interested in cartel conduct, anticompetitive conduct, product safety and vulnerable consumers. And there's been an upward trend in penalties of late, along with an increase in ACL penalties with maximums now starting from $10M. Suffice to say, best to avoid the crosshairs.