ON TOUR: NSW Fair Trading commissioner Rod Stowe in Grafton to talk to regional offices about the new complaints register.
ON TOUR: NSW Fair Trading commissioner Rod Stowe in Grafton to talk to regional offices about the new complaints register. Adam Hourigan

Consumers get scoop on dodgy traders

CONSUMERS are about to get the inside knowledge on dodgy traders from the body dealing with the complaints.

Later this month, NSW Fair Trading will publish its first list of the most complained about traders in the State.

Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe and his executive visited Grafton this week to hold monthly meetings with local staff and talk about the implementation of the complaints register.

Mr Stowe said the new list, which he said should be available on the Fair Trading website at the end of the month, would give consumers the same knowledge people inside Fair Trading possessed.

"I've been in Fair Trading for 27 years and we keep our own internal list of bad traders and anyone in Fair Trading would not deal with a whole of businesses,” Mr Stowe said.

"There's builders I wouldn't deal with. There are suppliers I wouldn't deal with, pool builders, because if you worked in Fair Trading you know their track record.

"It's been my view - and Minister Dominello's view - that the public are entitled to know that information.”

He said Fair Trading has already published guidelines of how the complaints register will work.

"Any trader who has 10 or more complaints to Fair Trading within a month will go on that list,” he said.

"No other consumer protection agency in the country has done it before.”

Mr Stowe said the information will come to the public unfiltered.

"This is also giving effect to the Government's policy of open data so the information we provided isn't being cleansed in any way; it isn't being qualified,” he said.

"It will be for businesses to explain why they're on that list.”

Mr Stowe said traders knowing the register is coming has already led to improvements for consumers.

"What's been great in recent months, we've been engaging with businesses who haven't got a good track record, who we thought would most likely be on the list and we've had some very positive responses,”he said.

"We already seen a drop in complaints for a number of these businesses, who for years have been at the top of our list.

"That's because they've taken it seriously, many of them have taken on additional staff and put in additional resources.”

He said there was evidence some of the problems were coming from the top echelons of business.

"We've got CEOs for the first time taking a genuine interest in dispute resolution,” he said.

"Some of them have even asked our staff to come and help train their officers.

"I think this is a real game changer. It gives us some leverage in terms of getting better outcomes.”

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