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GRC Professional : GRC Winter 2012
28 GRC Professional • Winter 2012 Cover StorY Case study: the toy shop HobbyCo is Australia’s oldest toy and hobby store. Managing director Michael Wall says that he relies on ‘common sense’ to settle disputes, although with the new Australian Consumer Law, too much power could be in the hand of consumers. “A lot of the stuff we sell is delicate and will break if it is not assembled properly,”he says. “If we sell a remote controlled aeroplane, people whohave never flown them before will crash them, it is part of the learning process. But it is not reasonable for them to demand a refund. So we have had to start explaining at the point of sale that the consumers have a responsibility to read the instructions and treat the product with care, and that they should expect it to break if they mistreat it.” Despite the quality of their products, Wall notesthat when thingsgo wrong there is recourse to the manufacturer, but not when the consumer has been careless with a product. “And that is where theselaws are open to abuse. Idon’t think the public know enough about this yet but when they do I think the whole sector will suffer - the extra costs we face will have to be passed on through higher prices.” Case study: the franchise Mrs Fields Cookies CEO Andrew Benefield says he has introduced a ramped-up monitoring program to ensure that all his franchisees have the necessary food safety supervisor qualifications and abide bythe requirements. “ Somebody getting ill from one of our stores is the biggest reputational issue that keeps me up at night.” Benefield has appointed an accredited training firm to teach staff and ensure a qualified supervisor exists at each store. Hehas also trained staff on Fair Work Australia requirements to ensure that his franchisees are up to speed on employment law, and give their staff fair breaks, working hours and pay rates. “T he burden of policing these things takes up an increasing amount of time, [but] there are no short cuts and we simply havetobe in regular touch with every franchise and quiz them about their regulatory duties.” When his business grows a littlelarger, Benefield will haveto comply with food labelling legislation requiring each menu item toshow calories and ingredients. “ It is enormously expensive andtime consuming but, once again, you can’t argue with the logic of people having the right to know what is in their food.” When things go wrong there is recourse to the manufacturer, but not when the consumer has been careless with a product ... and that is where these laws are open to abuse.
GRC Autumn 2012
GRC Spring 2012