A timely warning on consumer rights relating to refunds and replacements of faulty products has arisen, after retailer Wiggle was slapped with a five-figure penalty for allegedly misleading customers.
With the final countdown on to Christmas, and the subsequent sales season, the penalty serves as a warning to all businesses to know the legally mandated rights of consumers, and that they and their staff accurately convey them to customers.
The online sports retailer paid a $12,600 fine after it admitted that its staff were likely to have misled customers over their rights, according to the ACCC.
“Under the Australian Consumer Law, consumers are entitled to a repair, replacement or refund when there has been a major problem with the product. This law applies to all businesses that sell products to consumers in Australia, including overseas-based businesses,” commission deputy chair Delia Rickard said.
However, it said that Wiggle told some of its Australian customers that it would not provide refunds on faulty products because they had been used, or that customers needed to contact the manufacturer directly.
Wiggle also allegedly told customers that it was not bound by the Australian Consumer Law because it is UK-based.
The ACCC also said that Wiggle’s website previously stated that only UK law applied to transactions through its site, but that this has now been amended.
“It does not matter that Wiggle is based overseas or that the consumers had used the goods; the Australian Consumer Law still applies to faulty products,” Ms Rickard said.
“Statements by retailers which seek to limit or exclude the Australian consumer guarantees are misleading and likely to contravene the Australian Consumer Law.
“It’s also misleading for a retailer to tell the customer they must go to the manufacturer for a remedy when a product is faulty. Under the Australian Consumer Law, consumers are entitled to remedies from the business that sells them a faulty product.”
The Wiggle website was unavailable when My Business attempted to contact it for comment.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.