Have You Heard About The Great Australian Rip Off?

Australians are getting ripped off. If you’re frustrated with the price of living in Australia right now – you’re not alone. An estimated 7 out of 10 households pay too much for electricity, insurance, and other bills. Premiums and prices are skyrocketing and millions of Australians are unknowingly paying higher premiums and bigger bills to cover the cost of the ‘secret’ commissions of up to 60% collected by commercial comparison websites. Introducing: The Great Australian Rip Off. 

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is demanding transparency, but the government has done nothing. In 2018, the ACCC following its Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry recommended regulatory action to mandate full disclosure of commissions and penalties for breaches. A CHOICE ‘Review of insurance comparison websites’ (2017) found commissions had adverse impacts on consumers, and one comparison website was paid a commission of up to 60 per cent every time it sold a new life insurance product. Despite the ACCC recommendations, the Australian government has still done nothing to implement them. 

The Great Australian Rip Off is a campaign that is shining a light on these secret payments and incentives introduced by comparison websites that are driving up everyday bills. Through spreading awareness, the campaign hopes to unite consumers to make cost of living and transparency core election issues ahead of the Federal Election. 

Spokesman Trond Smith says that it’s important that the Australian Government adopts the recommendations of the ACCC to introduce a mandatory code. “We are on all sides of government – Labor, the Coalition, Greens, United Australia, whoever it might be – to make an election promise that they will implement the ACCC recommendations: introduce a mandatory code to minimise consumer harm.”  “We’re asking for transparency around the commissions that are being charged and we’re asking for transparency around the commercial relationships between the comparison websites and their suppliers. “ 

Four of Australia’s largest insurers – IAG, Suncorp, QBE, and Allianz, boycott commercial comparison websites because of the extra costs that would need to be passed on to consumers. In a submission to a Senate Economics References Committee inquiry into Australia’s General Insurance Industry (2017) Allianz wrote that they asked not to participate in commercial comparison sites in Australia. “They charge a fee for their service and therefore impose an unnecessary additional distribution cost that would need to be passed on to our consumers in the form of higher premiums,” they wrote. 

By joining the campaign and signing the petition, you are asking for a commitment to two regulatory actions: Implement Recommendation 34 of the ACCC 2018 Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry—Final Report: The Australian Government should prescribe a mandatory code of conduct for third-party intermediaries, which addresses the issues discussed in chapter 14. For example, offers should be recommended based on price benefit to the consumer rather than the size of the commission received by the third party. The code should contain civil penalty provisions for any breaches. (p.282) Mandate full disclosure of all commissions, payments, and other incentives in the relationships between commercial comparator websites and suppliers.

Join the campaign to make it an election issue to stop the rip off.

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