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All’s fair in share economy – know your rights and obligations with growing goods and services market

13 November 2017

Consumers who use ride sharing apps or who book holiday accommodation through online sharing economy platforms, and the traders who provide those services, are being reminded of their rights and responsibilities with a new national education campaign.

The ‘sharing economy’ is the name given to mechanisms that have developed in the marketplace to connect consumers to individual traders who have products or services to sell, hire or lease.  The mechanisms used to arrange the transaction are generally an online platform or a mobile app and the most well-known involve ride sharing, home sharing and skills sharing.

Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said the rise of popular sharing economy websites and apps has provided consumer protection agencies the opportunity to remind Australians of their rights under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

“The sharing economy provides a convenient experience for purchasing and hiring goods or services at a local level,” Mr Bauer said.

“Our research shows that half of all Australians are using or thinking about using a sharing economy website or app, so it is important everyone plays their part to make sharing fair.

“If you hire or buy goods and services through a sharing economy platform, you are protected by the ACL, in the same way as you would be if you were to buy in a bricks and mortar store.

“Consumers are entitled to the truth about goods or services, the supply of those goods and services with due care and skill, and all the information they need to make an informed decision.”

If things don’t go to plan while using a sharing economy platform, consumers can follow these steps to resolve the issue:

  • Speak to the seller or service provider.
  • Contact the platform through their internal dispute resolution process if they have one.
  • Write a factual customer review and rate the trader on the platform.
  • Lodge a complaint with the Office of Fair Trading.

“Traders are also covered by the ACL and have all the same rights and obligations to consumers, like guaranteeing the services and goods they provide comply with consumer law”, Mr Bauer said.

Traders must avoid misleading or deceptive conduct such as:

  • writing a fake review
  • asking or paying someone to write a review
  • writing a false review about a competitor
  • hiding negative customer reviews.

Australian consumer protection agencies have jointly produced a series of videos that include information on the ACL and have tips for both consumers and traders on how to share fair in the sharing economy.

The videos and more information on consumer and trader rights and responsibilities can be found at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading or by calling 13 QGOV (13 74 68).

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Last updated
13 November 2017
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