The operator of online electronics store Electronic Bazaar has been fined $100,000 for misleading customers regarding refunds and the liability for faulty goods.
In measures brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the Federal Court of Australia found that sole operator Mr Dhruv Chopra had made false or misleading representations to consumers since at least 21 May 2014.
Misleading actions included not providing customers with refunds, repairs, or replacements for goods, and failing to supply goods to consumers within a specified, or reasonable, timeframe on at least four separate occasions.
The Court found consumers had been told they could not receive these entitlements because products had passed their express warranty due dates, were not in their original packaging, or that customers had simply failed to make the claim within a specific time period.
Mr Chopra told consumers that their refund rights were to go up against a company named either Unreal Technologies Private Limited or Unreal Technology Private Limited, neither of which exists.
“The Court’s decision to impose a significant penalty on Mr Chopra, a sole trader, for misrepresenting consumers’ refund and warranty rights makes it clear that this conduct is a serious breach of the Australian Consumer Law. A consumer’s right to a refund, repair, or replacement in certain circumstances under the ACL consumer guarantees cannot be excluded or modified by terms or conditions published on a website,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“The penalty imposed in respect of failure to supply goods within a specified or reasonable timeframe also highlights the need for online traders to ensure that when accepting payments for goods, they must to be able to supply those goods within the stated timeframe, or otherwise within a reasonable period.”
Apart from the $100,000 penalty, Mr Chopra has been restricted from engaging in similar conduct for the next 5 years, is to undertake training under the Australian Consumer Law, and is to pay back the ACCC’s costs of proceedings.