A further four Harvey Norman franchisees have been fined by the Federal Court for misleading consumers over their guarantee rights, bringing the total to nine franchises that have been ordered to pay $234,000 between them after an ACCC investigation.
In December 2013, five Harvey Norman franchisees were fined a total of $148,000 after the ACCC brought action against the retailers for making “false or misleading representations to customers regarding consumer guarantee rights.”
A further three Harvey Norman franchisees have been ordered by the Federal Court to pay a total of $60,000 in civil pecuniary penalties for “making false or misleading representations regarding consumer guarantee rights”, the ACCC said in a statement released today.
The stores were Gordon Superstore Pty Ltd located in Gordon, NSW ($25,000), Mandurvit Pty Ltd located in Mandurah, WA ($25,000) and Avitalb Pty Ltd located in Albany, WA ($10,000).
Another Harvey Norman franchisee, Oxteha Pty Ltd located in Oxley, Queensland was ordered to pay $26,000 by the Federal Circuit Court.
Both the WA stores, Mandurah and Albany, have ceased trading. While Gordon Superstore and Oxteha Pty Ltd were also ordered to display in-store corrective notices and implement a consumer law compliance program.
The ACCC said the “misrepresentations were made orally by sales representatives or store managers in each store.”
“These judgments imposing penalties are a clear message to all suppliers, no matter how big or small, that they must not mislead consumers about their rights under the Australian Consumer Law,” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.
The ACCC commenced proceedings in the Federal Court against 10 Harvey Norman franchises, and a decision on the final franchise Bunavit Pty Ltd is expected to be handed down by the Federal Court later this year, the ACCC said.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Avitalb Pty Ltd was located in Albury. It is actually located in Albany, Western Australia.