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Compliance program

Our role is to ensure businesses comply with fair trading laws.

To do this, each year we conduct a coordinated program of:

  • compliance monitoring
  • enforcement activities
  • educational activities.

We look at both:

We also participate in national compliance and education projects, along with fair trading agencies in other Australian jurisdictions.

Compliance strategy

Our compliance approach is cyclical. Each compliance operation gives us a chance to better understand trader behaviour, which in turn helps develop strategies to encourage and monitor compliance with the law.

We target our compliance resources based on identified risks and analysis of the marketplace. Industry sectors, licensees and traders most likely to cause harm, and consumers most at risk, receive the greatest focus.

The majority of traders in Queensland want to comply with the law. As a trader’s attitude to compliance deteriorates, our regulatory response escalates.

Our compliance pyramid showing the compliance strategy. The compliance strategy ranges from making it easy for people who are willing to do the right thing to using the full force of the law with people who decide not to comply.

Our compliance and enforcement policy and standards detail how we respond to trader non-compliance.

Compliance operations are conducted:

  • across Queensland by our compliance teams based in Brisbane, Cairns, Hervey Bay, Mackay, Maroochydore, Rockhampton, Southport, Toowoomba and Townsville
  • by our major investigations team in Brisbane
  • by our product safety team.

Scheduled compliance checks

The core of our compliance program is a schedule of compliance operations. Our inspectors make announced or unannounced visits to traders to check they are complying with the law. Our inspectors have certain powers to allow them to carry out their role.

In 2017/18, we will undertake the following scheduled compliance operations.

Target/focusDescription
Motor dealersCheck licensed motor dealers, particularly newly licensed dealers
Second-hand dealers and pawnbrokersTargeting second-hand dealers and pawnbrokers identified as non-compliant in 2016/17
Real estate agents and resident letting agentsCheck licensed real estate agents and resident letting agents, particularly newly licensed agents
ImportersCheck compliance with product safety obligations
Online businessesCheck compliance with product safety obligations by online suppliers
EkkaCheck showbags and other novelty items for sale at the Ekka are safe
Security providersCheck adherence to licensing and conduct provisions during Schoolies
Resident letting agents and real estate agentsCheck adherence to licensing and conduct provisions during Schoolies
Christmas toysAnnual check of children’s toys and products to ensure unsafe items are not on sale in the lead-up to Christmas
Lay-bysCheck lay-by terms and conditions, with a focus on retailers previously identified as non-compliant
Indigenous souvenir retailersCheck sellers of Indigenous art and souvenirs, including legitimacy of claims made about authenticity and country of origin
Souvenir retailersEnsure souvenir and tourist-orientated retailers are in compliance with consumer law rules including was/now pricing
Product safety standardsCheck compliance with product safety standards in the retail sector to reduce supply of non-compliant or unsafe products
Motor dealersRevisit recalcitrant and non-compliant traders detected earlier in 2017/18
Real estate agents and resident letting agentsRevisit recalcitrant and non-compliant traders detected earlier in 2017/18
Price scanningCheck larger retailers to ensure prices of items when scanned at register match those displayed in-store
Market tradersIncrease compliance amongst market traders and importers around product safety standards

Non-scheduled compliance checks

Our inspectors can also do compliance checks that are not scheduled above.

This might be in response to:

  • a complaint from a consumer or trader
  • emerging issues or trends
  • heightened public or media attention.

Educational visits

We assist licensees in the industries we regulate by hosting educational forums and doing educational compliance visits. These visits are an opportunity to discuss fair trading laws and the trader’s business practices, and to give guidance to ensure compliance with the law.

Our inspectors may still take enforcement action if serious breaches of fair trading laws are detected during an educational visit.

Target/focusDescription
Tattoo industry Inform industry of recent changes to Tattoo Industry Act 2013 and the Office of Fair Trading's compliance role
Security industry Educate liquor licensed venues, crowd controllers and security monitoring agencies, and mitigate risks related to possible security staff shortages during Commonwealth Games
RemovalistsEducational visits to removalist businesses to discuss consumer law responsibilities

Our outreach program ensures regional and remote Queensland towns receive educational and compliance visits.

National projects

As the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) is a national law, we coordinate education and compliance activities with fair trading agencies from the Australian Government and the other states and territories.

In 2017/18, we are involved in the following national projects.

Target/focusDescription
Consumer driven careEducational work around consumer driven care, particularly for consumers with disability and seniors.
Review of the ACLA statutory review of the  ACL has been conducted and work has begun on considering and implementing the recommendations. Stay up-to-date about the ACL Review.
Button batteriesMarketplace surveillance, with a focus on educating parents, caregivers, retailers and manufacturers about the dangers of button batteries.
Household cotsMarketplace surveillance, with a focus on online sellers of cots and educating parents to select cots which comply with safety standards.
Furniture safetyContinuing work with both consumers and traders on improving safety of large furniture items which may tip over and harm children, in conjunction with internal product safety regulators.
Sharing economyWorking with sharing economy platforms, businesses and consumers to embed knowledge of consumer law. Focus on ensuring those selling services know the consumer law applies to them as it does to other businesses, and that consumers are aware their rights are the same as for other types of transactions.
Consumers with disabilityContinuing education work for consumers with disability and National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants, particularly around signing contracts for the provisions of services. Collaboration with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) on complaint handling procedures and avenues for consumers to complain.
Pop-up eventsDevelop risk management strategies to deal with pop-up events, which may take payments from consumers and fail to offer refunds if the event does not go ahead or does not meet promises made to ticket holders.
Door-to-door tradingExamine the practice of 'lead generation' in which 3rd party marketers generate contacts, which are then passed on to door-to-door traders, to circumvent consumer law unsolicited consumer agreement protections.

Further national projects will be listed here in the coming months.

Compliance and enforcement guide

We have published a series of guides to help businesses understand key parts of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

The ACL compliance and enforcement guide sets out how we enforce the law. You can access your free copy by following the links below.

Download the guide (PDF, 1.69MB)

Order a hard copy

Last updated
20 July 2017
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