Three online electronics retailers, BecexTech (BXT International), Techrific and CatchDeal (both TCF Global companies) have found themselves in hot water with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), after advertising refurbished electronic goods as ‘new’.
Until September 2017, BecexTech, Techrific and CatchDeal advertised electronic goods such as mobile phones and tablet computers as ‘new’, when they were in fact refurbished, the ACCC has found after receiving 96 complaints about BecexTech, 34 complaints about Techrific and 60 complaints about CatchDeal.
In one example, a customer spent $608.95 on what they believed was a ‘new’ Apple iPhone 6 from BecexTech. The iPhone failed within three days, and the consumer took the phone to an Apple store only to be told the same phone had been purchased two years prior in the United States.
In another example, one customer purchased an iPhone 6 for $539 and a iPhone 6 Plus for $609 from CatchDeal in March 2017. Both phones contained the words ‘New Sealed Box’ in their titles. The consumer was later informed by Apple that both products were used and were in fact purchased in 2015. Both phones were also repaired with third party displays.
Another customer purchased a Samsung Galaxy S5 for $449 from Techrific in February 2016, which was advertised as being in a ‘sealed box’.
Within three months, however, the screen was failing and the customer took the phone to an authorised Samsung repairer who informed her the phone was actually a refurbished model, and the water damage indicator inside the phone had been replaced with a third party version. The consumer was given only a partial refund of $369.
BecexTech also admitted to misleading consumers about their rights by falsely claiming they were not bound by the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) as they were incorporated overseas.
“When you sell a product as new but it is made of used parts, you are clearly breaching the law by making a false or misleading representation,” ACCC deputy chair, Delia Rickard, said.
“If you carry on a business in Australia, you are bound by the ACL. All Australian consumers are protected by consumer guarantees, and they cannot be limited or excluded.”
Both companies admitted to contravening the ACL and provided court-enforceable undertakings to the ACCC whereby both companies will clarify when products are refurbished or are not Australian market versions on their website; contact and offer redress to certain consumers who were either misled into purchasing refurbished products or were misled as to their rights under the ACL.
The two companies will also implement an ACL compliance program including staff training and reviews as well as publish a notice to consumers about the undertakings and not engage in this conduct.
Further to this, BXT International will also cease its practice of ‘pre-selecting’ for purchase items additional to those which a consumer actually intends to purchase; and revise its warranty policy.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) began taking action against the retailer back in November.
The retailer openly admitted that it made false or misleading representations on the MSY website, and in oral and email communication to consumers about their rights.