The highest category of complaints received by the ACCC has been about claims made by energy retailers, particularly in relation to electricity bill price increases, with over 250 consumers and businesses having already reported concerns or asked questions about how the carbon price will affect their electricity and gas bills and whether the price increases communicated by energy retailers are appropriate.
After energy, the sectors that have been the subject of the most complaints and enquiries are landfill, building and construction and refrigerant gases – all of which the ACCC says may be directly affected by the carbon price in some way. Importantly though, only a fraction of the carbon price queries were related to SMEs.
“Overall, the number of complaints we have received about small businesses and small retailers has generally been low,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims says. “However when any business attributes a price increase to the carbon price, they must not mislead consumers. Claims must be truthful and have a reasonable basis. A business that makes a good faith, reasonable approach to calculating the carbon price for their business has nothing to fear from the ACCC.”
The ACCC admits there may be a degree of confusion arising from reports about the variety of cost pressures that impact on businesses and why prices may rise.
“For example, a price may increase partly due to the carbon price and partly due to other, unrelated factors,” the watchdog explains.” What might look like a carbon price representation at first glance often turns out to be something different.”
While it’s urging consumers to shop around to avoid carbon price hiking, the ACC reminds business owners that they have the same right when dealing with their suppliers and the same rules, to not mislead in relation to the carbon price, apply to suppliers.
The ACCC offers a range of carbon pricing guidance to business via its website. The ACCC is also hosting an interactive online carbon pricing webinar for businesses on Thursday August 16 from 1000 AEST.
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