The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has received court-enforceable undertakings from Australia’s “leading online department store”, Auction Alliance Pty Ltd, trading as Deals Direct, to stop giving customers false and misleading information.
The company was alleged to have breached the Trade Practices Act 1974 by giving customers the wrong information on warranties and rights.
According to the ACCC, Auction Alliance breached the Act by imposing a time limit on warranty claims.
The regulatory body also claimed that in some cases if a product was returned the customer would have to pay the transport costs, that there were products where customers would have to deal with the vendor and that refunds would only be provided if replacement products could not be found.
By contrast, the Act allows customers to demand refunds for defective products within a ‘reasonable time’, depending on the cost and quality of the product.
ACCC chairman, Graeme Samuel, said it was a win for online buyers and a warning to etailers that sales conditions had to be the same across any platform.
“Online retailers must recognise that they are subject to the same laws as shop front retailers. Ensuring compliance with the law may involve some costs but in the long run it will reduce the risk of action by the ACCC,” he said in a statement.
As part of the undertaking, the company, which also sells a wide range of IT and consumable products, will amend its warranties and returns policy and consider claims made for faulty products purchased since September 1.
“Online traders be warned: the ACCC is reviewing sites and will be considering action if remedial work is not quickly undertaken,” Samuel said.