We’ve all seen those shoot ’em up westerners where the Sheriff is away and the bad guys have taken over the town, terrorising the helpless residents.
Then, the sheriff rides back into town with all guns blazing, determined to bring law and order back and protect the innocent.
Well, seems like a similar thing has recently been happening on the Australian consumer scene.
Australia has a consumer watchdog called the ACCC (The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) which is responsible for making sure that providers of goods and services play nicely with each other and with consumers. The ACCC is also given quite extensive policing powers under the consumer protection act and various associated regulations.
However, for the last several years, the ACCC has not done a very good job exercising those powers and has largely been a ‘sleeping giant’. Basically, the ‘Sheriff’ has been away on vacation and the bad guys were allowed to run amok.
However, it seems that something has changed last year and this trend has continued this year as well. Looks like the Sheriff is BACK and is itching for a fight.
Here are just some of the major enforcement and prosecution activities the ACCC has initiated since 2012:
- Suing tech behemoth Apple for false and misleading advertising by falsely claiming its iPads sold in Australia were capable of 4G speeds.
- Launching a major investigation into Australia’s two major supermarket chains (an effective duopoly) and the bully tactics they use with their suppliers.
- Fining HP 3 million dollars for misleading consumers about their statutory consumer rights under Australian law.
- Taking group buying site Scoopon to court for making false representations to consumers about the refundability of the vouchers they purchased through the site and also making false claims to the businesses they work with in regards to how much business their campaigns on Scoopon will generate for them.
Whether it’s pure coincidence or not, it seems like this change in the tactics employed by the ACCC and its much more aggressive (almost militant) stance coincides with the appointment of its new commissioner in August 2011.
We think the new path the ACCC has chosen to take is very good and we welcome it.
Finally, we can say that our taxpayer dollars are actually being put to good use.
Welcome back Sheriff. Time to clean up this town.
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