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ACCC warns businesses to play nice amid pandemic

The Australian Government has upgraded its global travel warning to ‘Do Not Travel’.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has created a dedicated page for the public to obtain information on their rights regarding cancelled services and other transactions potentially affected by the Coronavirus crisis.

The regulator says it is “alert to any instances of unfair or unconscionable conduct on the part of businesses in dealing with consumers” and that is will be watching the activities of businesses closely in line with predetermined terms and conditions of sale and Australian Consumer Law.

In the case of events and travel, the ACCC says it expects refunds or other remedies such as credit notes or vouchers to be issued in most circumstances where travel has been cancelled. It commended the industry for its prudent and consumer-friendly approach to the current crisis but added that consumers should be aware of potential changes to consumer guarantees in the event of government restrictions making an event impossible to stage.

“The ACCC encourages all businesses to treat consumers fairly in these exceptional circumstances,” the organisation said.

Regarding price changes, the ACCC said it couldn’t prevent or take action to stop excessive pricing but warned of “unconscionable” excessive pricing in cases where a product or service was critical to the health and safety of consumers. Businesses which make false claims about its reasons for excessive price changes will be in violation of Australian Consumer Law, it said.

CLICK HERE to access the ACCC’s information page on COVID-19.

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