Training your Team on Competition and Consumer Law
Consumer protection law is important for the efficient function of markets – it can encourage consumers to shop with confidence, and enable businesses to compete fairly. This can also help to eradicate non-compliant businesses, who underhand with misleading tactics. Therefore, it’s important to ensure your staff have sound knowledge on training and consumer law.
Any business that provides goods and services to consumers needs to ensure their staff are aware of the legal obligations. By supporting your managers, supervisors, and teams through clear, guided training, you can ensure your business is ahead of the pack. As a result, you and your team will understand how competition and consumer law applies to your organisation.
In the process of providing training for your team, there are a range of topics that you will need to include. It’s necessary to make sure you are covering all aspects of competition and consumer law for managers, your customer and B2B engagement.
The key training points include:
- Understanding the ACL guarantee
- Implementing consumer rights
- Applying consumer guarantees to B2B transactions
- Providing warranties and guarantees
- Policy implementation
From a legal perspective, the competition and consumer laws overall establish the minimum standards which must be met. In 2010 the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) came into effect, replacing the Trade Practices Act. It provides the same protection and expectations about business conduct right across Australia.
All businesses have the same responsibilities and obligations wherever they operate in Australia. For example, the ACL provides that a business which sells goods or services guarantees that the particular business does have a right to sell the goods or deliver the services.
Understanding ACL Guarantees
There are a number of automatic guarantees that we must meet when we supply goods or services to a consumer. The ACL simplifies the law and makes it clearer to understand for both consumers and businesses. More informed consumers make better choices, driving competition and innovation in markets and the development of a seamless national economy.
The ACL provides that businesses that sell goods guarantee that they:
- of acceptable quality
- are fit for purpose
- have an accurate description
- match any sample or demonstration model.
- satisfy any extra promises or representations verbally or in writing about the quality or standard of a good – If a representative of a business offers additional services or guarantees, these must be met regardless of whether they were simply stated during the sales process or in writing
- Businesses selling goods that may require spare parts and repair facilities must have these reasonably available for a reasonable period of time unless the consumer is advised otherwise.
Your training needs to include how these guarantees apply to your business and your business operations. It’s also important to give examples of how staff can help to uphold these and strive for excellence in your workplace.
The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) consumer guarantees are automatic rights that apply to purchases of goods.
A consumer can ask for a Refund, Repair or Replacement if the product or service they purchase fails to meet any of the consumer guarantees. It’s important for your staff to know that it is illegal to say that your business does not provide refunds. However, refusal for refund can occur if the customer found the item cheaper elsewhere, decide they don’t like the item or simply changed their mind.
Applying Consumer Guarantees to B2B Transactions.
The ACL covers the supply of goods under the amount of $40,000. It does not matter whether the customer is an individual person or a business. Therefore, when a business sells or purchases goods from another business and the transaction is less than $40,000, consumer guarantees will apply.
The ACL consumer guarantees will also apply if:
- The amount is over $40,000 and purchased for “personal, domestic or household use”
- Goods are purchased for transporting other goods, i.e., purchasing vehicles or trailers
However, there is an exception if goods are bought to sell as stock. For example, if an electronics store buys a sound system from a supplier, the ACL’s consumer guarantees do not apply to that purchase. Therefore, this is where the warranty of the supplier becomes important.
Warranties and Guarantees
Warranties for goods differ from consumer guarantees in that they are voluntarily provided by the supplier or manufacturer. In contrast, the ACL imposes consumer guarantees, however, once a supplier provides a warranty, the purchaser will be able to rely on this warranty. The ACL states that a supplier must comply with any express warranty they make.
When building policies around Competition and Consumer Law, it’s important to take into consideration the key legislation, your business dealings and the products and services you provide to your customers and clients.
Ensure your polices cover:
- Referenced legislation.
- The purpose of the policy and Competition and Consumer Law is important.
- Who the policy applies to.
- The objectives of the business in relation to Competition and Consumer Law.
- Policy Implementation.
- Your workplace culture.
As part of your training, you should have clear reference to:
- Customer Service Policy
- Customer Complaint Policy
- Refund and Returns Policy
To see further how dita Solutions can help you implement effective manager, supervisor and staff inductions that provide quality training on Competition and Consumer Law, contact us here.