Australian Consumer Law Responsibilities for NDIS Providers
NDIS registered providers must comply with the Australian Consumer Law (the ACL), and the Competition & Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (‘Competition and Consumer Act’). The consequences of not complying are not only an infringement of the law, but it can also result in prosecution and possibly revocation of your registered provider status.
The ACL impacts interactions between businesses and consumers, which details the rights of consumers and the restrictions on businesses. You must understand your obligations under ACL when supplying consumers with a disability.
By way of overview, under the ACL you are legally required to do certain matters:
1. Treat Customers Fairly
This means you must not behave unconscionably when dealing with NDIS participants. You will be considered to be acting unconscionably if your conduct fails to meet the usual standards of conscience informed by acceptable community values.
As a registered provider, you must provide:
- accurate information about your products and services in all advertising, marketing, packaging, and selling;
- accurate and true statements about your products and/or services; and
- remedies when goods and services sold fail to meet the consumer guarantees.
If something goes wrong with a service or product that has been supplied and the guarantee is not met, consumers have a right to a repair, replacement or refund for goods or to have a service fixed.
2. Comply with the Unfair Contract Terms Requirements
A term of a contract may be unfair if it:
- causes a significant imbalance between your rights and obligations and those of the consumer;
- is not reasonably necessary to protect the legitimate interests of the provider’s business – an example of this may be an unreasonable cancellation policy; and
- would cause the consumer financial or non-financial detriment if it was enforced.
3. Sell Safe Products
Under the ACL, a registered provider must:
- take responsibility for the safety of the goods supplied or sold;
- have active policies in place to test the products to be sold and detect any unsafe products;
- notify the ACCC immediately of any reports of death or serious injury caused by the use of products supplied; and
- recall products previously supplied that present a safety risk or do not comply with a mandatory standard or ban.
4. Compete Fairly
The Competition and Consumer Act imposes obligations on businesses, including those in the not-for-profit sector who operate in competitive markets.
As a registered provider, you must not enter into anti-competitive agreements, such as an agreement or understanding with a competitor to charge the same price.
This restriction applies to oral and/or informal agreements, not just written agreements.
Companies can be fined up to $10 million. Individuals can be fined up to $500,000 or imprisoned for up to ten years.