The ACCC is helping small business understand their rights and obligations when managing refunds and cancellations due to the coronavirus.

A lot of small businesses are facing challenges but still want to do the right thing by their customers, and we have developed a guide to help reduce any confusion, ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh (pictured) said.

“At the same time as handling requests from their customers, small businesses may also be customers and we want to make sure they are aware of their rights when dealing with other businesses,” he said.

The guide outlines issues such as cancelled functions and events, pricing of goods and services and charging subscription and membership fees when the business is not operating.

One of the key areas for information concerns the cancellation of large events, and businesses are reminded that they must honour the terms and conditions of their contracts with customers.

“As a business, if you are unable to provide goods or services during this time, you have the opportunity to work with your customers to find a mutually agreeable alternative arrangement,” Keogh said. “This could include providing a partial refund, a credit note or voucher, or rescheduling to supply the services at a later date where this is possible.”

He said failure by any business to honour its cancellations or refunds policy may constitute misleading conduct under Australian Consumer Law.

The ACCC guidance for consumers may also be relevant for small business, which, under Australian Consumer Law, may be legally defined as consumers when engaging with other businesses.