The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released a warning to online merchants in Australia notifying them they are not exempt from complying with Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
The main factor online merchants in Australia seem to neglect is proper product descriptions. The ACL requires a full product description alongside a listing and should include information relating to ingredients, materials used, and product origin.
Online and Brick & Mortar establishments are both in breach of ACL regulation if they sell banned products, do not meet all requirements of mandatory product safety standards, or fail in their obligations related to product liability, consumer guarantees, and misleading and deceptive conduct.
ACCC Deputy Chair Dr. Michael Schaper has stated that while the Ecommerce is fast, keeping track of those who up stand the ACL’s terms is becoming a harder challenge. However, merchants and Etailers must still be aware of their obligations to consumers, to which the ACL was established.
“The ACCC is concerned that some online sellers, particularly those based overseas, may not be aware that all businesses supplying to Australian consumers have the same obligations under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL),” Dr. Schaper said.
An example of the ACCC’s strict policies can be seen with 2 merchants who sold banned small, high-powered magnets to Australian consumers. After the ACCC inviened, a product recall was conducted, and the products were pulled from the merchants’ sites.
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“Product recalls can be expensive for a business but the cost of a recall is not the only potential financial consequence to online businesses who supply unsafe products. Penalties can include infringement notices and the ACCC can seek court-imposed penalties of up to $1.1 million for serious breaches,” Dr. Schaper added.
Here are some recommended tips for Ecommerce in Australia to comply to the ACCC and ACL:
- Clearly displaying warnings and product labelling;
- Using good quality product images;
- Providing clear product descriptions, including recommended usage and age-grading for children’s products;
- Checking the requirements of Australian safety standards and bans prior to listing a product as available for sale.
A free guide on product safety online for Ebusinesses can be viewed here.