GST website to monitor consumer prices

With two weeks to go before new tax laws come into effect, an interactive website has been launched to educate the public on the ins and outs of the GST and new tax system.

Called Choice Price Watch, the interactive GST website is aimed at educating consumers on the changes to the new tax system, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCA) chairman, Professor Allen Fels said.

The Australian Consumer's Association (ACA) developed the site (http://www.consumerpricewatch.com.au) in conjunction with the ACCC in order to provide a way to seek information regarding changes in price and to record pre- and post-GST prices, according to Fels.

Consumers are able to record, in an online database, the name, brand, size, model, and price paid for a particular item before July, along with store, suburb, and date the item was purchased, and their name and email address. This information is stored by the ACA.

Shortly after July 1st, the information will be emailed back to the individual to serve as a reminder of what they paid and when, and the next time they go shopping, they can compare the new prices with the ones paid weeks, or even months, before.

Another feature of the Choice Price Watch site is the form where consumers can alert the ACA of if they have noticed an unusual price change in an item they regularly purchase. This form contains sections where the individual specifies the type, brand and name of the product, the size and model of the product, where, when and for how much the product was purchased, the price after the unusual increase or decrease, and the period over which the price changed. This is done so that the ACA can identify patterns in price change for particular items and areas of Australia.

These features enable the consumer to be able to shop around for the best and fairest prices, officials said.

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