ACCC Cracks Down on Online Retail Returns Policies

By Power Retail | 17 Nov 2017

The ACCC says it’s currently directly engaged with 12 clothing retailers to ask them to amend their online returns policies to avoid confusing or misleading consumers

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has found that some retailers may be misleading consumers about their rights under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) after reviewing the online policies of several large Australian clothing retailers.

In July 2017, Lululemon Athletica Australia paid penalties totalling $32,400, following three infringement notices from the ACCC for alleged false or misleading representations about consumer guarantee rights. Similarly, consumer protection body ACCC warns it will crack down on any retailers that fail to honour the rights of consumers.

“This year the ACCC has received over 750 complaints regarding consumer guarantees for clothing purchases. We are reviewing the policies of retailers at busy times such as Click Frenzy, in the lead up to Christmas and during the Boxing Day sales period,” says ACCC deputy chair Dr Michael Schaper.

The executive says that if customers are looking to return faulty goods to local retailers after massive online shopping events, the ACL gives them the right to choose between a refund or replacement if a product they have purchased has a major fault, even for sale and clearance items. “If a product has a minor fault, retailers can choose to provide a free repair instead of a refund or replacement.”

The ACCC is engaging directly with 12 retailers to ask them to amend their online returns policies to avoid confusing or misleading consumers.

“Businesses must ensure the rights of consumers are honoured when they try to return a faulty product. Retailers must not misrepresent the consumer law and the rights of their customers in the wording and advertising of their returns’ policies. We will take further action if a retailer is not fulfilling its legal obligations under consumer law,” warns Schaper.

“Misleading representations regarding online refunds and returns are one of the most complained about issues reported to the ACCC. Already this year, the ACCC has received over 24,000 contacts about consumers guarantees so it is important for us warn the retail sector and educate consumers as we enter the busiest shopping period of the year.”

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