Small business generates complaints aplenty


While running your own business means you get to be your own boss, it doesn’t quite mean there’s nothing to complain about.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has released a report showing it received almost 3,000 complaints and enquiries about small business and franchising in the first half of 2013.

Dr Michael Schaper, deputy chair of the ACCC, said the report is part of the commission’s commitment to stepping up its engagement with small business.

“The ACCC is keen to ensure that small businesses are aware of their rights and responsibilities,” Schaper said.

Misleading advertising and false representations are among the biggest complaints when it comes to business franchising. The ACCC received over 1,000 enquiries relating to this issue in the past year alone.

One of the ACCC’s priorities is sorting out credence claims – statements that improve the appeal of a product when compared to similar products that consumers may not be able to verify for themselves, such as the country of origin of a product.

“Credence claims are important, and we need to protect honest small businesses who are selling premium products from unscrupulous competitors making false representations,” Schaper said.

“The ACCC has been very active in policing credence claims in a wide variety of different markets, from meat claiming to be sourced from King Island, to Australian-made tags on Ugg boots that are actually made in China,” he said.

Just last week the ACCC announced it had pushed seven suppliers of bottled water to remove ‘organic’ claims from the labelling and marketing materials.

According to the report, advertising services have also generated a significant amount of complains from the SMB and franchising sectors.

‘Non-store’ retailing like online retailers, ‘other’ store-based retailing such as art galleries and pet shops, and travel agency and tour arrangement services also complained about.

The release of the Small Business In Focus report follows the launch of the ACCC’s online education program for SMBs earlier this year. The program, as well as a program for franchisees, is available here.