BXT International, which trades as BecexTech, and TCF Global, which operates the brands Techrific and CatchDeal, admittedly breached consumer law by selling goods as new when they were actually refurbished or reconditioned.
The sales included items like tablets and mobile phones.
Competition regulator the ACCC said it had received almost 200 complaints from consumers about the three brands, leading to an investigation into the complaints.
In one of the complaints, a consumer spent $608.95 on an Apple iPhone 6 from BecexTech, but the phone failed just three days later. When taking the phone to an Apple store, they were reportedly told the same phone had been purchased in the US two years earlier.
Another consumer received only a partial refund on the $449 they spent on a Samsung Galaxy S5 from Techrific, after the screen began to fail within three months. Again, the phone was taken to an authorised repairer, where they were told it was a second-hand phone that had been refurbished with third-party parts, including an internal water damage indicator.
“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,” said ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard.
“If a product does not match descriptions made by a salesperson or on a business’ website, consumers can seek remedies from the retailer, including a replacement or a refund.”
BecexTech also admitted to another instance of misleading consumers by claiming it was not bound by Australian Consumer Law due to being incorporated overseas. However, this is not the case.
“If you carry on a business in Australia, you are bound by the Australian Consumer Law. All Australian consumers are protected by consumer guarantees, and they cannot be limited or excluded,” Ms Rickard said.
My Business can confirm all three sites now stipulate whether products are brand-new, refurbished or ex-demo models.
All three companies are required to redress all affected consumers, as well as take appropriate action to ensure such claims are not made in the future.