Retail

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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Customer data: What you should know

As online channels become an increasingly important part of retail businesses, organisations are increasingly collecting customer data in the course of trade. This information is rich with insights that can be used by organisations to track consumption patterns, effectively target their advertising to particular consumers or particular groups of consumers and directly contact consumers. With significant penalties for non-compliance, it is important for businesses to be aware of legal obligations that apply to dealing with this …

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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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A Christmas credit carol: Advertising consumer credit

As we move into the festive season, personal finance such as credit cards and loans become increasingly attractive to consumers so they can spread the Christmas cheer. Offering finance options are a great way to get customers through the door, however, businesses should be aware of requirements that apply to advertising consumer credit under the National Credit Code (NCC), which is contained in Schedule 1 of the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (Cth). Applicability …

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Marketing warfare series – Part II: Comparative advertising

A strategy often used by competing brands is comparative advertising. With numerous cases brought in the Federal Court of Australia each year and the potential for considerable pecuniary penalties, businesses should approach this strategy with caution. What is comparative marketing? Comparative advertising is, as its name suggests, an advertisement that compares a product or service with the equivalent offering of a competitor. This is usually done to highlight limitations of the competing offering and demonstrate …

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Consumer law update: Headline pricing and expanded investigatory powers

On 26 October 2018, the Treasury Laws Amendment (Australian Consumer Law Review) Act 2018 (Cth) came into effect, amending a number of key provisions of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and extending investigatory powers available to the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) and Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). This comes as a timely reminder for businesses to ensure compliance with the ACL and particularly the changes to headline pricing practices. Headline pricing From …

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Cosmetics Labelling Guide Released by ACCC

Recently, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) released a guide on labelling requirements that apply to cosmetics products sold in Australia. This comes as a timely reminder for businesses that produce and supply cosmetics products to ensure that they comply with mandatory standards under the Trade Practices (Consumer Product Information Standards) (Cosmetics) Regulations 1991 (Cth) (the Mandatory Standards). Application of the Mandatory Standards The Mandatory Standards apply to cosmetics products, which are classified as …

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New rules for imported foods into Australia

We’ve all come to love those delicious exotic delicacies in our fridge originating from around the world. But these imported foods are not always as harmless as they seem and can pose serious health risks such as the tropical fruit cassava and the Sardinian cheese, Casu Marzu. Two weeks ago, on 21 September 2018, the Imported Food Control Amendment Act 2018  (the Amendment Act) received royal assent.  The Amendment Act introduces various changes to the previously existing …

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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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Food Standards Code: Mandatory Warning Labelling Update

On 26 May 2018, products containing the legume Lupin became subject to mandatory allergen warning requirements under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code).  It’s inclusion is a timely reminder for businesses to ensure that their product labelling includes warnings required by the Code. Mandatory Warnings By operation of Standard 1.2.3 of the Code (the Standard), food manufacturers must label their products with a warning when a designated allergen may be present as an …

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Social Media Marketing and Advertising Update: The Rising Star of the ‘Micro Influencer’

Businesses are increasingly questioning the value of “celebrity” social media influencers and appear to be favouring partnerships with “micro influencers” as a more cost effective marketing strategy. A “micro influencer” is a social media user with between 1,000 to 90,000 followers who, like a traditional influencer, makes posts promoting products.  Their key advantages include use of products out of real loyalty to a brand (in some cases), smaller and more intimate followings and, as a result, the …

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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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AANA releases practice note on gender stereotypes in advertising

The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA), part of Australia’s self-regulation system for advertising, has recently released a revised Code of Ethics Practice Note which provides guidance in relation to the use of gender stereotypes in advertising. Complaints under the AANA are adjudicated by the Ad Standards Community Panel, and the revised practice note can be used by the panel in future determinations of complaints of breaches of the AANA Code of Ethics (the Code). …

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Food and Grocery Code of Conduct Review

The Food and Grocery Code is the first prescribed voluntary code under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) regulating the conduct of supermarket retailers and wholesalers who have agreed to be bound by the code. A draft report released on 2 July details 14 draft recommendations made by the review. The key draft recommendations focus on expanding the scope of the code to ensure that all significant wholesalers and retailers are bound by the …

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