CORPORATE WATCHDOG IN PERIL:
The sudden embrace by major corporations of honesty in their advertising and selling practices has put the very existence of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in doubt.
The Bug can report exclusively that the ACCC has begun shedding large staff numbers in areas of the commission’s work dealing with advertising standards compliance.
Most worrying for ACCC boss Rod Sims is the decision by the Big Four banks to be “completely honest and upfront with customers” in the wake of the Royal Commission into banking and finance sector “misconduct”.
The corporations have banded together under a truth-in-advertising campaign called It’s Time . . . to Own Up.
“Much of the ACCC’s work involves the Big Four and their marketing and advertising techniques,” Mr Sims lamented. “If they follow through with this bout of openness and honesty and too many others follow, my job’s buggered and the ACCC frankly is done for.”
The Bug’s finance and marketing guru Morrie Bezzle agrees that the ACCC and Mr Sims have much to be worried about.
“The campaign by the ‘Big Four’ is brilliant,” Bezzle said from his office at the Numinbah Valley prison farm.
“Russel Howcroft from that ABC Gruen show would more than piss his pants over this strategy. I reckon he’d cack his daks!
“I think it’s a clever business model to own up to your sins and yet try to make a virtue of them while at the same time still squeezing customers for everything they’ve got by charging sky-high interest on credit cards and giving bugger all interest on savings while still pushing products that are all loaded in the banks’ favour.
“If that’s not brilliant enough, the Big Four now get to smother all of those shit sandwiches in an ad campaign telling everyone they’re a bunch of angels. Brilliant, to borrow one of old Russel H’s favourites, yeah?
“In the Morrison-era the strategy is also going to appeal to all those quiet Australians out there who admire success in others who have shown that if they have a go they’re prepared to go for it.”
Mr Sims blamed the whole situation on the RC which had turned the banks and others into “corporate confessionals”.
To explain the dilemma facing the ACCC’s future, Mr Sims pointed The Bug to fresh advertising campaigns from the Big Four which clearly adopt a mea culpa approach to their misdeeds – with major qualifications.
Under the It’s Time . . . to Own Up campaign, the CBA has dropped the pretence of being a good corporate citizen, cancelling ads about its support for women’s cricket and instead booking a large number of ad placements detailing a wider extent of fraudulent activity than the 53,700 occasions it admitted having breached money laundering laws.
Standing in front of a bank of (un)intelligent deposit machines, CBA CEO Matt Comyn said in the spirit of the It’s Time . . . to Own Up campaign, the CBA was happy to announce that the actual number of breaches involving the laundering of the proceeds of drug and gun crimes was quadruple the number admitted earlier.
Westpac, found to have breached the Anti Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Act 23 million times, took a slightly different tack, boasting that it believed it had the right to claim the highest number of fraudulent breaches of any Australian bank.
“We are clearly superior to all the others when it comes to making money,’’ the new Westpac ad proudly states.
“Westpac is Australia’s oldest bank and that means we have the undeniable privilege of having ripped off Australians longer than any of our competitors.”
The NAB recently admitted to a decade of Austrac failures in which it did not properly screen almost 150,000 customer records as it was required to do to guard against money laundering.
Their new ad proudly states: “The bank’s previous philosophy, stated as: ‘We’re good with money and we’re good with people. See how NAB supports customers, communities and the environment for a stronger future’ has been changed to ‘We’re really good with accumulating money but we’re pretty bad with people’.
“NAB sees no future in supporting customers, communities and the environment because this might restrict stronger future share growth.”
Mr Sims told The Bug: “You can see why the ACCC is extremely worried about these outbursts of honesty and a commitment to fair trading that’s all above board and tickety-boo.
“Where am I going to get a job this well-paying at my age?” he said.