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ACCC flooded with energy related carbon tax complaints

AUSTRALIA'S consumer watchdog received almost 2500 carbon tax-related complaints in its first 100 days.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission revealed on Thursday the number of complaints and inquiries about carbon pricing had dropped from about 60 to 10-15 per day.

It said the daily number had been as low as four in recent weeks.

Carbon tax complaints accounted for about 6% of the more than 43,000 complaints received by the ACCC since July 1, when the scheme came into effect.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said 50 initial investigations and 15 in-depth investigations had been conducted.

In a speech to the Australian Food and Grocery Council this week, Mr Sims said more than 40% of the carbon-related complaints related to the energy sector.

"This is to be expected given the most prominent effect of the carbon price has been on electricity prices," Mr Sims said.

"With the first quarter electricity bills arriving in letterboxes, we expect energy complaints to continue."

Mr Sims said the refrigerant industry had also attracted a high number of complaints.

The Coalition focused on the refrigerant industry in the lead-up to and in the days after the July 1 implementation.

In investigating some of these complaints the ACCC received one administrative resolution, with a further four anticipated, and one enforceable undertaking from air-conditioning and refrigeration repair companies in relation to alleged false and misleading representations regarding the impact of the carbon tax on the price of refrigerant gas.

"We are working with the refrigerant industry to provide them with guidance to avoid making misleading statements," Mr Sims said in his speech.

Most complaints about the carbon tax were from consumers and small businesses.

Mr Sims told the grocery council the ACCC's response to carbon tax complaints had been "proportionate to the conduct".

"The low complaint levels certainly show that most businesses have acted in accordance with the law during the first 100 days of carbon price representations," Mr Sims said.

"When they have not, we have contacted them quickly and worked with them to help them comply.

"Proof of this is the more than 40 formal and informal warning letters we have sent to traders in various sectors.

We also sent out over 50 educative letters to traders providing them with information and guidance material about carbon price claims and the role of the ACCC."

A regional Queensland medical practice was among the list of companies contacted for increasing charges for fax messages that were "inappropriately linked" to carbon pricing.

Topics:  accc, australian government, carbon tax, electricity, energy, environment, politics


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