This year has been another busy one for CHOICE – thanks to your support, we've secured protections for consumers in myriad areas, from battery safety to data privacy.
Tinder says it stopped age-based pricing discrimination in 2022 following a CHOICE investigation.
2022 started off with online dating giant Tinder promising to institute fair pricing for its users following a CHOICE investigation.
Back in 2020, we discovered that the company's premium service, Tinder Plus, was charging users different prices depending on their age.
We then teamed with our international counterparts to find out if Tinder was doing the same thing in other countries. We discovered that the dating platform was using price discrimination based on a range of factors in five out of the six countries assessed.
In February, after thousands of supporters signed the petition calling on Tinder to dump price discrimination, the company said it had stopped charging consumers different prices based on age, but hasn't yet committed to giving up all forms of price discrimination.
CHOICE worked with over 125 organisations to support victims of the Youpla collapse. Image: Bayila Creative.
In March, the disgraced insurance provider Youpla (formerly known as the Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund (ACBF)) collapsed, leaving tens of thousands of First Nations peoples without funeral cover after they had been paying their premiums for years.
For decades, the company had marketed heavily to Indigenous communities, representing itself as First Nations-owned when it wasn't, and gathering hundreds of complaints about its business practices in the process.
Its bankruptcy left the relatives of Indigenous policy holders unable to pay for Sorry Business – a culturally significant mourning practice important to First Nations communities.
In the wake of the collapse, CHOICE joined over 125 other community organisations to form the Save Sorry Business Coalition to fight for justice for everyone affected.
Working with First Nations advocates and over 20,000 supporters who took action by signing the open letter, the campaign secured a significant result – a multi-million dollar scheme which will cover the funeral costs of First Nations people who held policies with Youpla/ACBF as of 1 April 2020 and who have passed away recently or who pass away before November 2023.
We're continuing to make the case for culturally appropriate solutions, including compensation, for all 30,000 First Nations peoples exploited by Youpla/ACBF. You can show your support by signing the #SaveSorryBusiness open letter.
Public outcry following a CHOICE investigation into facial recognition led major retailers to abandon the technology.
In June, CHOICE revealed major retailers Kmart, Bunnings and The Good Guys were using facial recognition technology (FRT) on unsuspecting customers.
We highlighted the lack of transparency from these businesses in their use of FRT – most only had limited signage instore and a majority of consumers we surveyed didn't realise the businesses were capturing and storing their 'faceprint.'
Our investigation also focused on the scarce detail offered by the retailers on what steps, if any, they were taking to prevent the experimental technology from falsely identifying customers or to ensure the sensitive biometric data it collected was being adequately protected.
The result was widespread uproar, with all three businesses backing away from using FRT as the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner opened an investigation into whether they had breached the Privacy Act.
Heading into 2023, we'll continue to advocate for rules that properly regulate this new frontier of surveillance. Our petition for a new FRT model law has 19,000 signatures and counting – add your signature to the our facial recognition technology petition.
A new, world-first standard for button batteries came into force following years of CHOICE advocacy.
June saw the sealing of another victory, albeit one more than six years in the making, with the new standard for button batteries coming into effect.
Since 2016, CHOICE has been campaigning for a compulsory code defining how manufacturers use these small batteries, which are found in many common household items and toys.
We were joined in this endeavour by the parents of children who had died after swallowing button batteries, which were in many cases easy for small hands to remove from products.
Our campaigning quickly resulted in voluntary guidelines, but by 2019 we were finding that a majority of products still had unsecured batteries that could be easily accessed and swallowed by children.
In 2020, following the lobbying of politicians and another tragic death, we received welcome news: Australia would become the first country in the world to implement mandatory safety and labelling standards for all products containing button batteries.
These new rules came into force in the second half of this year and we would like to think Australian kids are now safer thanks to the advocacy of CHOICE and the families who lost children.
Rounding out the year was the passage through parliament of laws introducing new and increased fines for companies that break consumer regulations.
Included in the new legislation was a fivefold increase in the penalty for unconscionable conduct and misleading and deceptive conduct, and a new fine for unfair contract terms.
Thanks to the passion and support of CHOICE members and supporters, your rights and protections as a consumer improved in 2022CHOICE director of campaigns and communications Jessica Kirby
Businesses will have until next year to get ready for some of these regulations, but we're already preparing to make the case for more changes to fill in gaps in consumer law.
You can get involved by signing the petition for tough penalties for companies that unfairly refuse a refund, repair or replacement on faulty products.
Director of CHOICE campaigns and communications Jessica Kirby says the strengthening of consumer laws formed a strong foundation for CHOICE to build on in 2023.
"Thanks to the passion and support of CHOICE members and supporters, your rights and protections as a consumer improved in 2022," she says.
"Each time you signed a petition, shared an investigation or spotted a Shonky product or service, you helped strengthen our work as Australia's consumer advocate."
"Still, there's more to do. In 2023, we'll be going further. Online or offline, we want to see businesses treating consumers fairly across the board. That's why we'll continue to be calling for law reforms and changes to business practices, and seeking your help to get involved."
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.