Business publisher and information group, CCH, today launched Compliance Training for Customer Relations - Fair Trading Law, designed to reduce breaches of Australia's fair trading laws.
CCH's online training program responds to a need for companies to be aware of their legal obligations under fair trading legislation when it comes to any aspect of dealing with customers, including advertising and call centres.
Mr Sitesh Bhojani, commissioner responsible for enforcement at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, took part in the launch and said better trade practices compliance programs are necessary if consumers are to be protected from misleading advertising and misrepresentation by front-line personnel.
Breaches of fair trading laws attract large fines, the possibility of gaol sentences for directors and unwanted publicity as the ACCC makes misdemeanours known widely.
Among recent cases, highlighting the need for compliance training, are:
- Target's advertising of clothing sales with insufficient prominence given to exclusions, resulting in the Federal Court ordering further advertising to apologise
- fines of over $500,000 each for One.Tel and Primus for inadequate supervision of the actions of door-to-door and over-the-phone selling agents
- National Australia Bank has been found on four occasions to have engaged in unconscionable conduct in relation to the obtaining and enforcing of personal guarantees covering loans to customers
- a penalty of nearly $250,000 against Australian Billboard Connections for misrepresentation
- a penalty against CSR for having a trade practices compliance program which was considered inadequate for the purpose of fulfilling obligations under the law.
According to Mr Willem van Zanten, CCH regional director Asia Pacific, the current climate was of cracking down on breaches of trade practices law and the resultant fines and publicity were not attractive for business.
"In this environment and with companies wanting to undertake training in the most efficient way, we have introduced a program which can make training possible over the internet," Mr van Zanten said.
"Our program is written by legal experts and is in plain English as well as being produced from a background of considerable experience in online training," Mr van Zanten added.
CCH's Compliance Training for Customer Relations meets the demands of Australian Standard AS3806, the benchmark against which regulators measure compliance.
Standards Australia has confirmed that the training reflects the major content of QAS's compliance training products and offers a most useful tool to support implementation of the compliance framework as reflected in AS3806.
Modules and technology around the training have been developed with Impart Corporation, Australia's leading online learning organisation which is a commercial venture involving three Australian universities.
The six modules of the training give an overview of the law, focusing on misleading and deceptive conduct, unconscionable conduct and misrepresentation as they relate to product and service quality and product safety and information.
Each module is interactive and includes formal tests.
CCH's targets for its training are companies where staff deal directly with customers in making representations about products and where greater professionalism in customer relationship management is needed.
Future versions of CCH's online compliance training programs will focus on other aspects of the law in relation to specific industries, including financial services and occupational health and safety.
As a publisher of expert business information, CCH focuses on law, tax, accounting and human resources.
Established in 1969, CCH, which employs 165 specialist editors in Australia and Asia to produce its expert content, is a subsidiary of international business publisher, Wolters Kluwer nv.
For 2000, Wolters Kluwer recorded profit of A$1.4bn and total sales of A$6.7bn, of which A$415m of sales, a five-fold increase on the previous year, was generated from internet businesses.
ISSUED FOR: CCH AUSTRALIA LIMITED
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: MR WILLEM VAN ZANTEN, REGIONAL DIRECTOR ASIA-PACIFIC, CCH AUSTRALIA LIMITED, TEL:(02) 9857 1300, www.cch.com.au
ISSUED BY: WESTBROOK COMMUNICATIONS, CONTACT: IAN WESTBROOK , TEL: (02) 9231 0922, MOBILE: 0407 958 137