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Cutting through hype

THE ACCC receives many calls about advertising and selling issues.

With the introduction of the new tax system many businesses continue to base their advertising campaigns around GST ‘hype’.

Honest advertising and selling practices benefit business and consumers.

However, any kind of conduct or behaviour in business that could give a customer the wrong impression or idea about the real situation may potentially breach the Trade Practices Act.

The ACCC recently instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against a Perth business alleging misrepresentations and false and misleading conduct concerning advertising by the business about the likely impact of the GST and the availability of finance.

The ACCC is seeking court orders including injunctions preventing the business from engaging in similar conduct in the future, corrective advertising and refunds for consumers that may have suffered loss as a result of the advertisement.

Businesses, their staff and representatives must take particular care not to mislead or deceive consumers because the law does not distinguish between deliberate or accidental misrepresentations.

The Trade Practices Act also specifically outlaws particular types of false or misleading representations, such as false claims about a product’s value, price, quality, place of origin or impact on the environment.

Material is available either in hard copy or from the ACCC website at http://www.accc.gov.au that help businesses understand their rights, remedies and obligations under the Trade Practices Act.

n Professor Allan Fels is chairman of the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission.

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