A leading electrical retailer and its director have been slammed by the Federal Court of Australia for engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct.
Ozdirect Online Brands Pty Ltd and its director Paul Albright have been given court orders over various misleading practices over the sale of electrical goods on its websites including www.ozdirect.com, www.ozdirect.com.au and www.ausbuys.com.
The court orders followed ACCC action in July last year over its alleged conduct in contraventions of the Trade Practices Act 1974.
According to the judgement handed down from Justice Rares, Ozdirect accepted payments from consumers when it knew it could not supply goods in a reasonable amount of time. In addition, Ozdirect also accepted orders and payments while it was on credit hold with its suppliers.
“Obviously such conduct is commercially unacceptable as well as being misleading or deceptive,” said Justice Rares. “Such dishonest conduct cannot be permitted or encouraged.”
Other court findings highlighted that Ozdirect made a number of misleading statements about consumer rights. One example of this was in relation to refunds, where the consumers who wished to seek a refund for faulty goods only had three days to make a claim and would only be entitled to a credit note.
Justice Rares found that the company contravened sections 52, 53(g) and 58 of the Trade Practices Act 1974.
Ozdirect must restrain from accepting payments for goods when it believes it will not be able to stock the goods. It must also stop making misleading representations to consumers in relation to availability of goods and refund terms. The ACCC’s expenses must also be paid by Ozdirect.
ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel sent a warning out to other retailers in the industry.
“Other online retailers need to be aware that if they take payment from consumers for goods that they are not able to supply, they will risk similar court action by the ACCC,” he said.
According to the ACCC, Ozdirect has now ceased trading and Paul Albright’s whereabouts is now unknown.