ACCC updates

Back to school: Consumer rights training required

The fast-paced retail environment poses a high risk for businesses to make false, misleading or deceptive representations about products and consumer rights under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).  With the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) having the power to impose considerable pecuniary penalties, businesses should be aware of their obligations under the ACL and ensure that staff are given adequate training. Consumer Guarantees The ACL provides that certain guarantees attach to goods and services …

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ACCC update: 2019 compliance and enforcement priorities announced

Last week, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) announced its annual compliance and enforcement priorities for 2019. The list included a number of priorities that are particularly relevant and important for retail and consumer-facing businesses, including: consumer guarantees, particularly in relation to high value white goods and electrical goods; customer loyalty schemes; advertising practices on social media platforms; collection and use of consumer data; and franchising arrangements. This announcement comes as a timely reminder …

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Don’t believe the hype: Online ratings and reviews under the microscope

Online ratings and reviews are perceived as a low cost, transparent and real-time way for consumers to make informed purchasing decisions and can therefore be highly influential. Over the past year, there have been a number of enforcement actions successfully brought by the ACCC for businesses manipulating reviews or ratings that appear on their website, or third party review platforms. There has been much media focus on online ratings and reviews both in Australia and …

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Returning faulty gifts: New year, new product returns?

There’s always that one present under the tree. It doesn’t quite fit right or maybe doesn’t work once plugged in…Remember to not only remain calm, but both consumers and retailers should also ensure that they are fully aware of their rights and obligations under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). According to the ACCC website, the Australian competition watchdog received nearly 34,000 contacts about consumer guarantee related issues in 2018 alone – an increase of more …

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Ethical credentials in retail – upcoming changes you need to know

With modern slavery reporting requirements likely to commence in the near future in Australia, there is a renewed focus on the ethical sourcing of retail and clothing products.  Specifically, in August this year, the ACCC re-authorised the Homeworkers Code of Practice (the Code) for a further ten years. The Code is voluntary for manufacturers within Australia and aims to ensure that workers receive appropriate entitlements (i.e. wages and legal protection) for their work in the textile, clothing …

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Full Federal Court provides further insight into the use of ‘natural’ in product branding and advertising

Natural skin care products, natural beauty products, natural cosmetics…the list goes on.  These so called ‘natural’ products are on-trend and are in high demand in the Australian and Asia Pacific retail market.  The rise of consumer demand for natural products is a result of its association with health and wellness and as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) described it, ‘Suggests that a product is superior because it has certain natural characteristics’. However, any business thinking …

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Be careful – consumer law penalties are set to increase!

Recently, the Treasury Laws Amendment (2018 Measures No. 3) Bill 2018 (Cth) passed both houses of parliament, implementing changes to the maximum financial penalties for breaches of the Australian Consumer Law.   This gives effect to the proposals set out in the final report on the Australian Consumer Law Review conducted by Consumer Affairs Australia and New Zealand in April 2017. This means that the current financial penalties of a maximum $1.1 million for companies will be increased …

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Country of Origin Labelling: Complementary Healthcare Products

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) released a guide earlier this year on country of origin labelling in relation to complementary healthcare products.  However, unlike the labelling requirements for food products (see our post from July on the commencement of the Country of Origin Food Labelling Standard available here), it is not compulsory for the healthcare industry to label their complementary healthcare products with county of origin information. ‘Complementary healthcare products’ is a term used by …

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Excessive Surcharge Provisions enforced by the ACCC

Earlier this week, the ACCC commenced its first proceedings under new provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) that ban excessive payment surcharges.  This clearly signals that the ACCC is actively monitoring and enforcing these restrictions, and comes as a timely reminder for businesses to review their surcharges for accepting payment by credit, debit and prepaid cards to ensure compliance. Under these provisions, merchants must not charge customers surcharges in excess of the …

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Country of origin food labelling has commenced!

From 1 July 2018, it became mandatory for businesses to ensure that food offered for retail sale in Australia is labelled in accordance with the Country of Origin Food Labelling Information Standard (the Standard). The Standard is aimed at providing consumers with greater certainty for where food is made, produced and grown when making purchasing decisions. For more information on the requirements of the Standard, see our previous update here. To monitor compliance, the Australian …

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Targeted: Organic claims

The ACCC has indicated that it is currently targeting businesses for making false or misleading ‘organic’ claims about their products. With a number of infringement notices issued as part of the investigations, it is a timely reminder for businesses to ensure that any product claims such as ‘organic’, ‘100% organic’ or ‘made using organic ingredients’ are true and can be substantiated. Similarly, any products labelled as ‘certified organic’ should have undergone a certification process.Whilst there …

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The car retail market and consumer guarantees

Car manufacturers are facing mounting pressure to comply with their obligations under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), particularly in relation to directing customers to warranties in place of consumer guarantees. Often consumers are unaware that under the ACL they have automatic rights to refunds and repairs, regardless of what the warranty covers. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has become increasingly concerned that car manufacturer’s policies fail to adequately account for consumer entitlements under …

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Proposed changes to the Australian Consumer Law: Exposure draft released

Off the back of recommendations contained in the 2017 Australian Consumer Law Review Report, an exposure draft of proposed changes to the Australian Consumer Law has been released for public consultation. The proposed changes include amendment of: Display Price Requirements section 48(7) to exempt vendors from the requirement to display a single total price that includes all optional fees and charges where: (a) the charge is payable at the option of the consumer; and (b) …

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Eggcellent news for consumers! New national standard for free range eggs

Australian consumers increasingly choose to buy ‘free range’ eggs in support of animal welfare (despite paying higher prices). However the task of determining whether eggs are truly free range has become a rising concern for consumers. Only last year, a major egg producer in the Australian market was penalised $1 million AUD after contravening Australian Consumer Law (ACL) by falsely labelling their eggs as free range, when it was found that the sheds were overstocked …

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Country of origin labelling update

Businesses have until 1 July 2018 to ensure their labels that are affixed to food items comply with the Country of Origin Food Labelling Information Standard (the Standard) which commenced on 1 July 2016. The requirements under the Standard apply to food offered for retail in Australia (i.e. food sold in stores, markets, online or from a vending machine). The Standard does not apply to food sold to the public for immediate consumption (i.e by …

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