Your advertising must give customers the 'whole picture'. It must be factual, all discounts must be genuine and the overall impression of your advertising must not be misleading. You must also be aware of laws about running competitions and promotions.
You must understand the regulations and laws relating to advertising before you begin advertising your products and services. Knowing the law will help you to avoid the severe penalties that apply to businesses that mislead customers.
The Australian Consumer Law (ACL)
The ACL was introduced on 1 January 2011 to protect consumers and ensure fair trading across Australia.
Avoiding unfair business practices is a handy guide that explains the ACL in simple language with easy-to-understand examples. The guide also explains the penalties for businesses that break the law.
What the ACL covers
The ACL covers key areas that relate to advertising, including:
- misleading or deceptive conduct
- including puffery; silence; disclaimers and small print; predictions and opinions; exceptions for information providers
- false or misleading representations
- including testimonials; consumer guarantees; sale or grant of an interest in land; employment and business activities; offering rebates, gifts, prizes and other free items; misleading conduct - nature of goods and services; bait advertising; wrongly accepting payments for goods or services; exceptions for information providers
- unconscionable conduct
- representations about country of origin
- including criteria for country of origin claims; 'made in' claims; substantial transformation; costs of producing or manufacturing goods; 'product of' claims; claims or origin based on use of prescribed logo; 'grown in' claims; certification trademarks
- information standards
- including business responsibilities.
The ACL is contained in the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. It is a national, state and territory law. Across Australia, consumers have the same protections and businesses have the same obligations and responsibilities.
Regulators of the ACL
- the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
- the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)
- each state and territory consumer protection agency (in Queensland, this is the Office of Fair Trading).