ACCC is seeking unfair price complaints against Australia Post
The Australian competition watchdog has released a draft guide for resolving bulk mail price-related disputes between Australia Post and its major mail users, such as PMP, Salmat and SEMA.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) released the draft guide to disputes about bulk ‘interconnection services’ on 10 August to help educate Australia Post’s major mail users on how to raise bulk mail pricing issues following the removal of ACCC oversight to pricing late last year.
In November 2011, the government officially removed the competition watchdog’s authority to oversee Australia Post’s pricing of bulk mail – a move that could potentially impact the big players in the industry’s essential mail sector.
In an attempt to highlight a pre-existing avenue for bulk mail pricing complaints and investigation, the ACCC has published the draft guide, and is now calling for public comment from bulk mail users in the industry.
“ACCC oversight was removed earlier in the year,” says ACCC commissioner, Joe Dimasi (pictured). “This [legal facility] has never been used, and because it’s available we wanted to make sure everybody knew how to use it.
“In the past, the prices of those services were regulated under the act, and that regulation was lifted earlier in the year. Because of that the mechanism available for businesses to complain is through this dispute resolution.
“As guidance, we’ll get comments from people where it’s helpful. We’re looking for comments by the end of the month, and then it’ll take a bit more time to finalise the guide,” he says.
The ACCC says the purpose of the draft guide is to inform the public and stakeholders about how it will conduct an inquiry into a bulk mail dispute. The ACCC considers that having a guide will help an inquiry to proceed in a ‘timely and efficient manner.’
In accordance with regulations made in the Australian Postal Corporation Act 1989, the ACCC can still inquire into disputes about the terms and conditions, including ‘price of access’ to Australia Post’s bulk mail services, even after it was stripped of its previous authority to oversee pricing.
The ACCC says the intent of these provisions is to ensure that, ‘persons who use bulk mail services receive fair and reasonable terms and conditions in relation to the supply of those services.’
The ACCC is accepting submissions from interested parties until 5pm on 21 September 2012, and it will release the final guide after considering the views outlined in the submissions.