The ACCC said that it had received complaints from customers who had requested redress for faulty products, but were told by sales staff that Pandora did not offer refunds and that its own warranty policy applied instead of the protections afforded to consumers under Australian Consumer Law.
An investigation by the competition watchdog found “confusing or inaccurate” information about consumer guarantees under Australian laws, and did not include the mandatory stipulation that consumers are entitled by law to redress for faulty products.
“Consumer rights to a repair, replacement or refund cannot be excluded, restricted or modified by a business’ warranty policy,” ACCC commissioner Sarah Court said.
“If consumers have purchased a product that has a major fault, they can request a full refund from their place of purchase,” Ms Court said.
According to Ms Court, Pandora has “acknowledged that it may have misled customers” about their legal rights.
“They also have admitted that, by doing so, they likely breached the Australian Consumer Law,” she said.
The ACCC has accepted a court-enforceable undertaking, requiring Pandora to amend its policies and consumer-facing information to reflect Australian laws. The retailer will also be required to review staff training to ensure they are aware of the company’s legal obligations when it comes to consumer warranties and guarantees.
Pandora’s Australian office issued a statement in response to the ACCC action, saying it had “fully co-operated” with the regulator.
“Pandora was first notified of the inquiry in October 2018, when it was advised by the ACCC that the Commission had received complaints from consumers in relation to incidents of 'no refund' statements given by staff at some Pandora stores,” it said, noting other concerns about the information on its website.
“A comprehensive review of our policies and procedures in relation to refunds and consumer guarantees has been conducted, with strengthened measures now in place across the network, which Pandora will monitor to ensure full compliance with Australian consumer law.
“Further and ongoing training will also be provided to Pandora franchised and company stores.”
The retailer then apologised to affected customers.
“Pandora is committed to offering customer experiences that exceed expectations, both in our stores and online. We apologise if we have fallen short in any situation, and we are dedicated to restoring our service to where we expect it to always be.”
According to its website, Pandora was launched in the Danish capital, Copenhagen, in 1982 from a small jeweller’s shop.
It now boasts 2,700 stores worldwide — including 143 in Australia — and has a workforce of around 32,000. Some 14,000 of those employees are based in Thailand, where its products are manufactured.