Consumers. Everyday millions of us are vying for their attention, attempting to change their minds and sell them our product or services. Often though according to Rod Sims, chair of Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), once we’ve got them inside our tent with promises of riches, a better life or that new must-have thing, we as businesses tend treat consumers appallingly.
Mr Sims’ concern voiced in a speech to the National Consumer Congress in Melbourne, is that some companies are being deliberately misleading towards their customers.
Further, this type of behaviour by large businesses - particularly airlines, telecommunications and car retailers is to be the subject of an ACCC crackdown.
"I am continually puzzled as to why some large companies treat their customers so badly, and with so little respect," Mr Sims said in his address.
"We are often told that companies will only succeed by meeting customer needs, (but) it is clear that some companies seek to deceive their consumers about these needs."
Following a deluge of complaints, in the coming months Mr Sims said the Commission will have particular focus on:
• Inflexible fare policies in the airline industry and how consumer rights may be being ignored and how the consumer guarantees could apply in relation to delayed or cancelled flights,
• Car retailing and the difficulty with which some consumers have exercising their rights around guarantees
• The advertising of claims of broadband speeds
With the support of the Australian Consumer Law, the ACCC is pursuing a number of companies over issues relating to misleading behaviour, including Kimberly-Clark/Pental over flushable wipes, Volkswagen and its emissions-cheating software and Heinz for marketing a healthy baby food product that was mostly sugar.