Monday, July 6, 2009

Australian Competition & Consumer Commission Response

Australian Competition & Consumer Commission
GPO Box – 3131
Canberra – ACT – 2601

23 Marcus Clarke Street
Canberra – ACT – 2601
Tel: (02) 6243 1111
Fax – (02) 6243 1199

Our Ref: 899448
Contact Officer: Candice Sng
Contact Phone: 1300 302 502
15th June 2009

Mr. Faruque Ahmed
P O Box – 349
Alexandria – NSW 2015

Dear Mr. Ahmed

Thank you for your letter dated 29 May 2009 to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (the ACCC) regarding the conduct of Cabcharge Australia and the NSW Taxi Council in placing "Safe Swiping" and "Warning Stickers" in NSW taxis.

By way of background it may be appropriate to outline the object of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (the TPA) and the role of the ACCC. The main purpose of the TPA is to promote competition and efficiency in markets within Australia and to protect consumers from unlawful anti-competitive conduct and unlawful market practices.

I understand from your letter that you are concerned with the potential increase in market power of Cabcharge Australia in the market for portable EFTPOS units in taxis as a result of the proposed installation of "Safe Swiping" and "Warning Stickers" by Cabcharge Australia and the NSW Taxi Council in relation to an initiative of NSW Police. Further, I understand that you are concerned that the above practice will cause the public to believe that only Cabcharge portable EFTPOS units will prevent any "skimming" activity by the taxi driver of cards provided for payment.

In assessing any complaint, staff of the ACCC would generally determine whether or not the matter falls within the jurisdiction of the TPA, whether or not there appears likely to have been a breach of the TPA, and if so, whether the impact of the conduct is so serious and widespread that it is appropriate that the ACCC should take some action. The ACCC generally takes enforcement action in circumstances where there are broad flow on benefits for industry and consumers alike.

I have carefully assessed the details of your complaint, and have concluded that in this particular instance there appears to be no evident likely breach of the TPA. In particular, the program you have described appears to be an initiative taken by NSW Police to educate and inform the community about the risks of credit card fraud in an industry which, though predominantly consisting of honest traders, is nevertheless particularly susceptible to fraudulent activity. Cabcharge Australia does not appear to be advantaged by the initiative and on the basis of the information you have provided, it does not appear that a substantial lessening competition is likely to occur as a result of the arrangement.

I have recorded details of your complaint in the ACCC national database. This information will be used in the context of the ACCC monitoring to determine whether there is a pattern of behaviour by a particular trader or in a particular industry that requires attention. The ACCC closely studies the patterns of complaints received to ensure that our enforcement and education actions are focused on the areas of greatest concern to Australian consumers.

Thank you for contacting the ACCC and bringing this to our attention. Should you wish to discuss this matter further, please do not hesitate to contact the ACCC's Infocentre on 1300 302 502.

Yours sincerely

Candice Sng
ACCC Infocentre
Information Research & Analysis Branch

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