Topfield supports ACCC call to revise consumer policies

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Topfield supports ACCC call to revise consumer policies

Consumer electronics set-top box manufacturer, Topfield Australia, has supported the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) decision to revise its consumer policy framework.

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The ACCC this week made an announcement that the Trade Practices Act no longer reflects the consumer, retailer and supplier markets, and called for the government to allow it to redefine its framework which has been in effect for over thirty years.

“The ACCC believes that the broad scope, flexibility and adaptability of the consumer protection provisions of the Ace have served Australia well over the last three decades and it continues to provide an effective foundation for protecting the rights of Australians in many areas. There are however a number of possible refinements that could be made to the consumer framework to enhance its operation,” said ACCC chairman, Graeme Samuel.

Four major amendments have been proposed to the Productivity Commission, including enhancing the ACCC’s investigative tools, allowing it to issue notices to traders requiring them to provide substantiation of advertising claims and allowing it to use its existing investigation and evidence gathering powers when it sees fit.

Topfield distributor, Digital Product Group Pty Limited’s director and manager, Jai Kemp, told ITnews that issuing notices to suppliers detailing their rights and duties to the consumer is “definitely a good idea”.

“If you drill down into the ACCC website, the necessary information [regarding advertising and correct sales practices] is probably well represented, but when you apply for a new business, no-one tells you that you should be reading all that literature,” he said.

Last year, Digital Product Group was fined by the ACCC for retail price maintenance, or ‘price-fixing’, in relation to certain of its Topfield-branded set-top boxes and personal video recorders. The company was ordered to pay $297,500 and is now restricted by a trade practices compliance program that involves close monitoring by the ACCC to prevent the company from engaging in similar conduct in the future.

Kemp says his company made an honest mistake, since information outlining his company’s duties was not readily available in a format that was easily understood.

Kemp now calls for the ACCC to provide more information to suppliers to minimise the risk of others being caught unawares.

“For a new company like ourselves, who started only seven years ago, we didn’t know where to get the information. It would be great if, when you apply to register a new business, you get the information from the ACCC detailing advertising, and so on, so you don’t get stung,” he said.

“We got stung. We were naïve. This literature will stop other companies going through what we went through.”
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