On 9 September 2019, Consumer Action attended a pre-decision conference on AA1000439 New Energy Tech Consumer Code (The Code) Application. We have provided a further submission following the discussion at the conference.
As in previous submissions we strongly support the proposal to prohibit signatories to the Code offering inappropriate finance arrangements. We also continue to call for the Code to incorporate appropriate protections in relation to unsolicited selling, as including these protections in the Code will address systemic issues and result in a net public benefit.
At the pre-decision conference, a Brighte representative made comments to the effect that Consumer Action only represents the most vulnerable consumers and that our comments should only be considered on that limited basis. This claim fundamentally misunderstands that any consumer can become vulnerable or disadvantaged through a chain of events or change in circumstances. It is necessary to have adequate consumer protections so that all consumers get good outcomes wherever the need arises.
The industry code being developed for Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) providers that was discussed at the conference cannot be genuinely equivalent to the National Consumer Credit Protection Act (NCCPA) because it is very unlikely that an industry code could have equivalent resources and penalties for enforcement as is the case for the NCCPA.
Our recommendations include:
- Ensure that all deferred payment arrangements offered by code signatories are subject to no less than the NCCPA and NCC consumer protections;
- Do not allow interim measures where signatories to the Code can offer deferred payment in arrangements that do not meet the NCCPA and NCC;
- Enable the Code administrator to issue mandatory guidance to prohibit signatories from undertaking unsolicited sales or require signatories to undertake a deferred sales method;
- Approve any amendments that that enable the Administrator to require signatories to demonstrate auditable processes to confirm their compliance with the Code; and
- Approve amendments that prohibit signatories from offering deferred payment arrangements in unsolicited sales.