201503.04

Helping businesses resolve customer disputes


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Wednesday 04 March 2015:

Effectively resolving customer disputes in-house benefits both businesses and consumers because it can remove the need for costly, drawn out litigation.

Today I released the Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council (CCAAC) Review of Benchmarks for Industry-based Customer Dispute Resolution.

The review found benchmarks for industry-based customer dispute resolution schemes are working.

The original benchmarks were published in 1997 and developed with the assistance of industry sector dispute resolution schemes, consumer groups, government, and regulatory authorities.

The review looked at the original benchmarks with the aim of ensuring industry has access to current best practice for handling customer disputes internally.

It is part of the Australian Government’s commitment to giving businesses the tools to run their business effectively and efficiently.

The review found that the benchmarks “are fundamentally viewed very positively by stakeholders”, with the overarching principles being described as durable and still highly relevant. Some recommendations from the review include:
• The benchmarks would benefit from some modernisation;
• The Principles and Purposes (with some minor amendments) should be retained in a stand-alone document and are unlikely to require further review in the medium term;
• The Key Practices section, which provides implementation guidance, would benefit from being updated from time to time;
• To enable the review of key practices, they should be separated into a stand-alone document.

As a result of these recommendations, I am pleased to also re-launch revised Principles and Purposes and Key Practice documents today. These revised documents will ensure that the benchmarks continue to provide effective direction to dispute resolution schemes.

I would like to thank CCAAC members for their expertise and commitment, including the contributions of the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and Mr Gordon Renouf from CCAAC, who led the project.
Stakeholders are encouraged to write to CCAAC (CCAAC@treasury.gov.au) with suggested revisions and updates to the Key Practices.

The report is available on the CCAAC website (www.ccaac.gov.au) and the revised documents, Benchmarks for industry-based customer dispute resolution and Key practices for industry-based customer dispute resolution, are available on the Treasury’s website (www.treasury.gov.au).