The Sharing Economy for Traders

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What is the sharing economy?

The sharing economy is an online marketplace run by platform operators that connect consumers with people who have goods or services to sell, hire, rent or lease. Platform operators provide administrative functions, such as facilitating payment and managing the platform through the use of peer reviews.

Businesses like eBay or Gumtree that connect buyers and private sellers of goods or that supply goods for the shared use of consumers do not form part of the sharing economy.  Sharing economy platforms include Uber, AirBnD and Airtasker. 

If consumers buy or hire goods and services through an online marketplace or sharing economy platform, they are protected by the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) if things go wrong, in the same way as they would be if they were to buy from any other business.  Their rights don’t change if you hire goods or sell services online, through an app or sharing platform. Read more about consumer rights.

Sharing economy trader checklist
Sharing economy trader checklist, by ACL
Sharing economy trader checklist, by ACL

What are my rights as a trader in the sharing economy?

As a trader in the sharing economy, some of your rights include:

  • Platform operators must not mislead or deceive you.
  • The automatic guarantee rights apply to you when purchasing services from a platform operator.
  • There are certain circumstances where it is illegal for a platform operator to refuse to supply you.
  • You can refuse to provide a refund if the consumer has simply changed their mind.

If you believe a consumer has not held up their end of a contract for a good or service, some platforms have their own internal resolution process to deal with this. Be sure to read your platform’s community rules and internal resolution process guidelines. 

You can contact Consumer Protection to lodge a complaint if you aren’t able to resolve a problem with the platform or consumer first. For more information on your rights and obligations as a sharing economy trader, check out the ACL website’s page for private traders.

What are my obligations as a trader in the sharing economy?

As a trader in the sharing economy, you must ensure that:

  • you avoid misleading or deceptive statements about the goods or services you offer, including creating a misleading impression,
  • you avoid using small print to excuse an overall misleading message,
  • any reviews you write must be accurate and reflect your actual experience and honest opinion,
  • you honour consumer guarantees. Goods must be of acceptable quality, safe, fit for purpose and match the advertised description,
  • if you recall a product, that you notify the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), and
  • if you become aware that a product that you supplied has caused a death or serious injury, that you notify Product Safety Australia.

Read more about your business rights and responsibilities and the rights of consumers in the Sharing Economy.

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