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Prices under spotlight

SINCE July 1 consumers have been comparing actual price changes with those listed in the ACCC’s Everyday Shopping Guide. Products and services that have attracted particular interest include milk, bread, take-away coffee, shampoo, video recorders, stamp duty and DVD players and, depending on the weather, umbrellas.

Since July 1 milk prices have been affected by deregulation of the milk industry across Australia, which has seen the regulation that previously set prices removed.

The ACCC has received a number of complaints about price changes for milk products and these are being further investigated in light of the Commission’s monitoring of industry deregulation.

The ACCC GST Price Line has received many calls about increases in the price of a cup of coffee, typically reporting price rises from $2.00 to $2.50 or $2.50 to $2.80.

This larger than expected increase could be due to businesses rounding up to a preferred pricing point.

However, while averaging across closely related products is allowed, no individual price should rise by more than 10 per cent as a result of the GST.

The ACCC has produced a compliance guide for small business, and software to help small business identify cost savings and adjust its prices.

These are available from the ACCC website at http://gst.accc.gov.au or by calling the Pricing Line on 1300 302 502.

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

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