StoresOnline allowed to operate

StoresOnline allowed to operate

Orders made to protect workshop attendees

StoresOnline has been permitted to go ahead with its next round of Australian workshops, despite a ruling that the US e-commerce apps reseller had in fact breached previous rulings on its retail behaviour.

The Federal Court of Australia has declined to grant the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) an injunction preventing the company, that trades variously as StoresOnline International and StoresOnline Inc, from marketing its software through a series of 'workshops' in Australia.

The watchdog had sought an urgent interlocutory injunction to restrain StoresOnline from conducting further presentations in Australia of its home e-commerce software packages until the case was closed.

StoresOnline media relations manager, Jeremy Roberts, had not at the time of writing returned answers to a series of questions about the company and the circumstances under which it had ended up in the Australian courts.

However, according to an ACCC statement, it feared StoresOnline had breached and would continue to breach the obligations in a Trade Practices Act section 87B (s.87B) undertaking given to the ACCC in 2006.

Last week, Justice Tamberlin in the Federal Court of Australia found StoresOnline had breached the s.87B undertaking at earlier workshops. In particular, he concluded StoresOnline had breached its obligation to make the three business day cooling off period known to consumers. Tamberlin has said the StoresOnline written disclaimers were "manifestly inadequate" and made orders to "discourage [StoresOnline], with the powerful sanction of contempt, from giving those presentations in a way that breaches its undertaking given to the ACCC".

The ACCC said the orders force StoresOnline to tell workshop participants that they get a three-day cooling off period before committing to a purchase. The company must also inform customers that they need a certain amount of money and degree of computer and e-commerce expertise to make any gains from StoresOnline's software.

"These disclaimers must be made by oral statements and by a written display on a screen at the commencement of and following the lunch break at all [StoresOnline] workshop presentations," the ACCC said.

Further, StoresOnline must not use testimonials from buyers of the software without permission and must not try to sell the product unless it can generate valid Australian tax invoices, the ACCC said.

The watchdog must also be kept informed and up to date with all StoresOnline's activities in Australia.

The final hearing is yet to be held, according to the ACCC.

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