Discuss the extent to which Consumer Law achieves its objectives

751 Words Jul 3rd, 2014 4 Pages
Discuss the extent to which Consumer law achieves its objectives.

The most efficient way for consumers to get what they want is through the ‘market’, not the government, but businesses have more power than their customers. Some businesses can and will use abuse this power and cheat and steal from consumers to make money. Because of this, the government regulates the behaviour of businesses to have a market economy that functions properly. These laws mainly protect consumers against; misleading/deceptive representations, unconscionable conduct, unfair contracts, and unsafe goods and/or services. To protect consumers, different legal and non-legal approaches have been taken.

Statutory protections by the government, like the Australian
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Coles claims and advertises that its bread is ‘baked today, sold today’ and ‘freshly baked in-store’. It was found that the bread was not, in fact, baked in Australia, but partially baked months earlier in overseas factories. Coles accepted a guilty verdict and claimed that new packaging was already being produced. Coles could face fines of up to $1.1 million per breach. This demonstrates how effective the ACCC is in enforcing the ACL but penalties may not be harsher enough. For a large business, like Coles, $1.1 million is not that much of a penalty compared to the profits it makes.

Non-statutory protections to help the ACL in achieving its objectives can be just as effective as statutory protections. One protection is the media. The media is a very powerful tool and can wreak havoc on the profitability of a business. To stay out of the harsh spotlight that is the media, businesses tend to ‘straighten out’ really quickly if found to be in breach of a section of the ACL. This helps to protect consumers to the degree that it makes businesses comply with the law quickly but it doesn’t stop them from doing it to stat with until they get caught.

Another non-statutory measure in protecting consumers is through External Dispute Resolution Schemes (EDR). An example of an EDR is the Financial Ombudsmen Service (FOS) which helps to protect consumers in matters regarding credit loans. The FOS is a cheaper, faster way of reaching a solution to
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