The recently released Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council (CCAAC) Review of Benchmarks for Industry-based Customer Dispute Resolution suggests that benchmarks for industry-based customer dispute resolution schemes are working.
The original benchmarks were published in 1997 and developed with the assistance of industry sector dispute resolution schemes, consumer groups, government, and regulatory authorities.
Releasing the report in early March, Federal Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson said effectively resolving customer disputes in-house benefits both businesses and consumers because it can remove the need for costly, drawn out litigation.
“The review looked at the original benchmarks with the aim of ensuring industry has access to current best practice for handling customer disputes internally,” Billson said. “It is part of the Australian Government’s commitment to giving businesses the tools to run their business effectively and efficiently.”
The review found that the benchmarks, “are fundamentally viewed very positively by stakeholders”, with the overarching principles being described as durable and still highly relevant. Key recommendations from the review include:
• The benchmarks would benefit from some modernisation.
• The Principles and Purposes (with some minor amendments) should be retained in a stand-alone document and are unlikely to require further review in the medium term.
• The Key Practices section, which provides implementation guidance, would benefit from being updated from time to time.
• To enable the review of key practices, they should be separated into a stand-alone document.
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