The consumer watchdog says price rises blamed on the carbon tax have sparked fewer complaints than it feared, so much so as to brand it ''an increasingly boring topic these days''.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims told a conference of the Australian Food and Grocery Council in Canberra this morning that his organisation had found the first 100 days of the carbon price ''fairly quiet''.
''I think the number of complaints we've had and the activity we've had to undertake is probably quite at the low end of what either we expected or we feared.''
But the watchdog has swooped on some misleading claims by businesses who falsely attribute price rises to the scheme. These have included a Queensland regional doctors' practice that raised its charge for sending a fax and a NSW flying school that hiked its tuition fees - both because of the carbon price.
In his third update on action taken by the watchdog against misleading claims around price rises related to the carbon price, Mr Sims said his organisation had received about 2500 complaints in the first 100 days of the carbon price.
This was just 6 per cent of the total 43,000 complaints received by the watchdog over that period.
In total, the ACCC has carried out 15 in depth investigations and started 50 initial investigations.
Most investigations revealed ''careless behaviour rather than deliberately deceptive behaviour'' by businesses. The ACCC has been telling businesses that they are free to raise their prices if they like, but they cannot mislead their customers by falsely blaming a rise on the carbon price.
Mr Sims joked: ''We do get a lot of complaints from people who say, 'Why don't you do something about politicians who are lying about the carbon tax?' - from both sides. That's where we can delightfully point out that our Act only extends to trade or commerce.''
About half of the complaints had been about the energy sector, he said. Household power bills have risen by varying amounts across different states because of the carbon price, usually by about 10 per cent.
The price of refrigerants is also rising in some cases. The watchdog has warned one WA refrigerant gas supplier about attributing too great a share of its price rises to the carbon tax.