The unfair business practices that are still legal in Australia

Unfortunately, there are no laws in Australia requiring businesses to treat customers fairly for some common practices such as:

  • Being offered a free trial and surrendering your credit card details, then being charged without notification when the free trial is over.
  • Dealing with a business whose refund policy flies in the face of consumer law, which always supersedes any company policy.
  • Buying a tech product that requires software upgrades you have to pay for and that limits the product’s lifespan.
  • Paying more as a longstanding insurance customer than you would if you were a new customer.

You can read more here:

We’ve seen how other countries and regions, such as the US, UK and Europe have improved markets by strengthening laws and consumer protections. The good news is that a consultation process is currently underway at a federal level. We are actively campaigning to ensure the best possible outcomes for consumers. If you’d like to show your support, add your name to our petition here:


I didn’t see any mention of online selling companies that happily take your money, in full, upfront, when they do not in reality have anything in stock to sell. The order is then fulfilled when or if they can source the goods.
Surely, it should be illegal to charge in full before the goods are actually available.


You’re, no doubt, talking about Quantas?

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No not Qantas in particular. The issue there seems to be problems with their booking systems, and advertising and taking bookings for flights taken off the schedule. Seems to be a disconnect between flight planning systems and booking systems. And customer notification.

Despite all the hysterical reporting, it seems to be isolated to around 8000 bookings accepted for non-existant flights. Not sure if any of those involved payment in full up front.

Back in 2017 I purchased CCleaner Professional Plus. It was supposed to include free product updates, however I found that after a year it expired and I’d have to pay again to renew it.

There was nothing on the website or my communications / invoice from them to indicate the product had to be renewed each year. I wouldn’t have purchased it if I had known I was only paying for one year’s use.


It’s bigger than a ‘disconnect’.

When people are only notified a few days before their flight, or less, when the actual flight was cancelled several days or even weeks before, and the customers are left out of pocket and scrabbling for flights because they have to return to their destination by a certain date … and appears that many flights were never going to be provided in the first place but were possibly ‘created’ just to tie up landing slots so Qantas didn’t have to give them up to competitors. Even their own pilots are claiming the flights were never going to happen even when those flights are put into the system.

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Tried to by a clothes dryer about 2 years ago (yeah, during covid) We’d ordered one online from a company in Brisbane… with their website saying “In Stock”… then get a phone call to be told it’s going to take two months and then every two months, the same phone call. “two months”, after six months we contacted them and said we wanted to cancel the order, they only had 2 dryers in stock when we wanted to cancel, neither of which were what we wanted, so they reluctantly agreed to refund our money (yes, it was refunded) but I agree. They shouldn’t sell if they don’t have it. The offer of one of the dryers they did have only came after they admitted they weren’t sure they’d ever receive what we had ordered.

I agree, don’t have it ‘in stock’ when it’s not even in the country.


I used CCleaner as a freebie download. It did some sort of job, but then became pester-ware.
Getting it out of my computer took some doing.
Sorry to hear you actually paid for it.


I’ve also had to remove it from my computer. It was one of the worst purchase decisions i’ve ever made. They are scammers.


We have a specifically designed disabled lift with a very chequered history. Roughly ten years ago we paid about $45,000 for the lift, and about another $20,000 for modifications to our home to take the lift.

We had many, many, many problems with it over the years. Their own staff have told us that it was built wrongly and that is the cause of many of the faults we had.

The business was sold WITHOUT LIABILITY. Which apparently meant that even though they kept the business name, the new owners have no responsibility for what had occurred before they bought it. So no warranty claims.

The lift broke down last year and we called the (still the same name) lift company who now manufacture and service the lifts out. The tech who attended said that it was the circuit board, and took it away. We were charged for his attendence and travel time.

We were quoted a high price (in the order of $650) for repair/replacement of a small PCB that controls the lift, which I paid. It was brought out and installed which we paid for as well. (I was told the PCBs are imported from China, so I later did a search and found similar sized lift PCBs on sale in China for under $100. The boards are likely different, but the priced difference is a stark contract.)

The lift worked for two days and then stopped dead again. We called the same company to come and get the lift working again. This time two techs came out and worked on if for a couple of hours and finally had it working.

When they had finished, we were told that the previous tech that had installed the circuit board had not done the installation properly, but they had rectified the errors. There were also other faults, such as the way the newly replaced back-up batttery was connected. Again this would have all been done by techs from this company. They also replaced the weeks old battery because it was flat.

The lift then stopped dead again two or three days later.

In the meantime, the company sent us a bill for the two tech’s work, including travel time, and charged me for a new battery. (I can buy the same battery at Jaycar for under ½ the price they were charging.)

I contacted the company and said that it should all be under warranty as the two techs were merely rectifying work carried out by their staff which had not been done properly; and under the ACL it was their responsibility to rectify faults cause by their faulty products (circuit board) and/or services (the techs).

They demanded payment. I refused to pay. They demanded payment. I refused to pay. Eventually they arranged for debt collectors to try to collect payment. I had an interesting conversation with the debt collector who insisted that I had to pay because the lift worked when the techs left. I refused to pay and referred the debt collector to a solicitor. I haven’t heard anything since. I would love to persue legal action against them, but that is not an option financially.

The outcome is we have a dead lift which is no good for anything and takes up a lot of real estate in our home. I have made enquiries, and all the components are proprietary and other lift companies will/can not deal with their bits and pieces. It has been suggested that if we want a lift, we remove the existing lift and another lift company can install one in the vacant space. Not a practical solution.

The lift has been dead for 1.5 years now, and every time I pass it, it am reminded of how disempowered I am as a lone consumer.

I mentioned the story of the dead lift to a occupational therapist who came to our home to work out disabled modifications and was told that this business now has a very bad reputation in the industry.

Apart from totally ignoring the ACL, the ‘legal but unfair’ part is 1) as the company was sold, I lost all rights relating to the original faulty installation, and 2) that the ‘new’ business charges exhorbitant amounts for the (faulty?) parts that they supply and the often poor quality technicians they send out because they are the sole supplier/repairer of the lifts.

The people that need these lifts are the elderly and disabled and it seems to me that they have no scrupples riding roughshod over their clients.


My pet hate when it comes to software is the “Life Time Licence” which only lasts the life time of that particular version of the software… but of course that’s in the fine print.


I recently purchased a pre-paid mobile phone voucher from Kogan Mobile and was automatically given a free trial to something called Kogan FIRST. I ignored the email I subsequently received with a subject line telling me my trial had begun until I noticed a $99 credit charge two weeks later. Apparently, the free trial that I hadn’t signed up for was over and since they already had credit card details from the original unrelated purchase, they felt justified in charging me for a year’s subscription. I immediately contacted them (in somewhat of a rage) and did receive a full refund almost immediately, which speaks well of their customer service staff, but the original transaction was to my mind completely fraudulent. I’m certain I did not miss unticking a box as I noticed the mention of Kogan FIRST on the checkout page but there was no way of deselecting it.


Fair enough, but surely you don’t have to upgrade to the new version if you want to continue on the licence you paid for? If you do, that might fall foul of some laws governing third line forcing - although you’d need legal advice, and I’m not a lawyer.

Software licences are different to normal products and services for various reasons. When you buy a product, you own the product. You don’t own the intellectual property in the product, so you can’t copy it, but you own the product, and you can resell it if you want to.

When you buy a service, you typically receive the deliverable benefits of the service, and the service provider has specific obligations in contract, statute, and common law. You have rights beyond what is discussed.

A software licence is pretty much entirely governed by the licence terms. Its use is restricted to permitted purposes under those terms. They make for pretty tedious reading. It is subject to some statutory rules, but not quite the same as for products and services. You’re not buying a product; you’re buying a usage right under the terms offered. You typically cannot resell the software, because the licence, by default, is personal - i.e. you’ve bought the right to use the software yourself. That right is not usually transferable, even though in most cases, for consumer software, the licensor turns a blind eye to such transfers. It gets a bit more complicated when it comes to embedded software - that is, software you didn’t know was included in the product or appliance you just bought.


That is very dodgy of them. It’s become a more common problem with these web based businesses - their self appointed freedom to gouge customers.

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I have a feeling I know the company you are referring to. Let me know if you need assistance!

More annoying than downright manipulative, but I recall making a digital subscription to the Australian Financial Review, with the claim “you can unsubscribe at any time”. Technically, you could, but it was a lot more effort than subscribing, so that claim was in fact misleading. Rather than clicking on a box, you had to email an address and someone would phone you up. While the AFR was covering dodgy marketing practices, you didn’t think they would be doing them itself. If I hadn’t have had this experience, maybe I would have re-subscribed when my life and an AFR subscription were more in sync. But this experience turned me off ever re-subscribing.