The Commerce Commision has named its priorities for 2018/19, including retail telecommunications, online retail and non-notified mergers.
“The priority areas we are targeting affect large numbers of consumers every day and we will be working with businesses to tackle the particular issues we are concerned about, both through education and enforcement,” Commerce Commision chairman Dr Mark Berry says.
“We have already undertaken a lot of work in the telecommunications sector over the past year and will continue to target retail services. In particular, we will be focused on billing, contract terms, marketing and switching practices.
Separately, with more and more New Zealanders routinely making purchases on the internet we will be taking a close look at the issues associated with online shopping, for consumers and businesses alike.”
In the ‘Retail telecommunications’ section of the ‘Priorities 2018/19’ report, the Commission adds, “We also expect to implement new consumer provisions from amendments to the Telecommunications Act, including industry codes to address issues of retail service quality.”
Under ‘Online retail’ it explains, “We will also look for opportunities to educate businesses about their responsibilities. In the process of increasing our understanding, we will take appropriate enforcement action if we identify areas of non-compliance.”
The Commission describes how New Zealand is seeing an increase in non-notified mergers under our voluntary merger clearance laws.
“Over the past two years we have opened five investigations into non-notified mergers,” Berry says.
“The success of a voluntary regime relies on the credible threat of enforcement proceedings so we will act quickly in these cases to prevent adverse impacts on competition in markets.”
The Commission says that it will continue to regard any cases that involve “significant harm” to consumers as priorities, naming cartel and anti-competitive conduct, product safety, and construction cases as examples.
The other areas of focus are responsible lending, motor vehicle sales, and electricity distributors’ service quality.