NSW Fair Trading will today release Australia’s first consumer complaints register – and it has disclosed that an airline came third in the numbers of complaints received.
This register, which identifies all NSW businesses that were the subject of 10 or more complaints each month, should go live on NSW Fair Trading’s website today, delivering the results for July.
Air Asia, with 25 complaints last month, comes third on the list. Real estate firm LJ Hooker tops the list with 31 complaints, followed by Harvey Norman with 29.
NSW Fair Trading Commissioner, Rod Stowe, explained that the Complaints Register is a win for consumers, giving them greater information and choice in the marketplace.
“This register empowers consumers to make informed decisions, and provides an incentive for traders to improve their business practices and accept full accountability for the goods and services they provide,” Stowe said.
Several businesses have already engaged with NSW Fair Trading and taken steps to reduce the number of complaints and avoid appearing on the register.
“The register encourages the marketplace to regulate itself, and publishing monthly allows businesses the chance to improve their complaint handling procedures.” Stowe said.
“The engagement we have already seen from businesses is extremely encouraging. Several have committed to never appearing on the register and have made wholesale changes to their business practices and dispute resolution protocols.”
In one instance, NSW Fair Trading met with senior representatives from a large national business carrying a significant product range, to identify complaint trends and establish methods to resolve issues.
As a result of their engagement with Fair Trading, the business employed new staff to oversee their complaints handling process and provided additional resourcing to mitigate complaint levels. The new procedures resulted in a significant decrease in complaints lodged with NSW Fair Trading.
Additionally, the engagement assisted Fair Trading in establishing a stronger relationship with the business, resulting in consumers receiving a higher level of customer service.
“In every case, businesses working with Fair Trading has resulted in better outcomes for customers and a renewed knowledge of the rights and responsibilities of traders,” Stowe said.
Mr Stowe defended the decision to aggregate data under the overarching brand name for retail groups and franchises.
“This is the name these traders use when promoting their businesses to the public and this is the name consumers identify with when making a transaction,” he said.
The legislation establishing the Complaints Register had bipartisan support when it passed through NSW Parliament last year and the underpinning guidelines have been endorsed by the NSW Commissioners for Information, Small Business and Customer Service.
Edited by Peter Needham