Unscrupulous PC dealers are staring down the barrel of stiffer penalties and a range of new offences they can be charged with, following the tabling of a report commissioned by the NSW Attorney General's Department, ARN has learnt.
"We will be clamping down on unfair practices," said a spokesperson for the Attorney General's office. "Too much of this has been happening and we have had a gut-full of it."
The report into the alarming number of consumer complaints against computer retailers was commissioned by Attorney General and Fair Trading Minister Jeff Shaw. Undertaken by the department's Fair Trading Advisory Committee (FTAC), the 136-page report followed a two-month investigation.
Sources within Shaw's office confirmed it will recommend a broad range of actions aimed at protecting consumers from suspect practices employed by some computer retailers.
While the Minister will not be commenting for two weeks as he digests its contents, sources within the Attorney General's office told ARN the report is aimed at alleviating what has become a torrent of criticism from consum- ers about unfair, illegal or unethical behaviour.
Additional responses from the Minister are expected to include greater cooperation amongst various government investigating and regulatory bodies in the IT industry, and education programs aimed at increasing awareness of the problems amongst both consumers and dealers.
"The major challenge with consumers is in getting them educated in the first place," the Attorney General's spokesperson said. "You can expect advertising and education campaigns aimed at increasing awareness. If people are making ill-informed decisions, we have to stop them from doing that," he added.
Although not available for comment, the report's author, FTAC chairman Phil Marchionni, is said to be scathing on the lack of regulatory control in the industry and the level of misinformation that is apparent amongst consumers.