ACCC taking on online cowboys over consumer rights guarantees

The ACCC has begun Federal Court proceedings against the operator of an online electronics store, Electronic Bazaar, for allegedly misleading consumers over their rights to refunds and the extent of the retailer’s liability for faulty goods.

Dhruv Chopra operates ElectronicBazaar.com.au, a site that sells smartphones, laptops, projectors, tablets, musical instruments, watches and cameras.

The ACCC alleges that Chopra made statements to the effect that consumers who purchased goods through his website were not entitled to a refund for goods which were “no longer under an express warranty; or where the goods had been used or not in original condition or packaging; or unless the goods were faulty on arrival; or unless a claim was made within a specified time period.”

It is also alleged that Chopra made false or misleading representations that consumers’ refund rights were against a company called “Unreal Technologies Private Limited” or “Unreal Technology Private Limited” when, according to the ACCC, neither of those companies existed.

ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said that traders cannot impose terms and conditions that exclude or waive consumer guarantees provided under the Australian Consumer Law.

“Consumers are entitled to receive a refund, repair or replacement including when the goods purchased are faulty or do not match their description.

“Consumer issues in the online marketplace are an ACCC priority.  The ACCC has a particular focus on representations about consumer’s rights when they are buying products or seeking refunds,” she said.

This year Telstra and a number of Harvey Norman frachisees have been bitten by the ACCC for ‘misleading consumers over their guarantee rights.’

The ACCC also alleges that Chopra wrongly accepted payment on four separate occasions by not supplying goods within the specified time or, where no time was specified, within a reasonable time.

The ACCC is seeking interim injunctions against Chopra to prevent him from continuing to engage in the alleged conduct, as well as, pecuniary penalties, declarations that Chopra contravened the ACL, final injunctions and costs.

The matter has been filed in the Federal Court’s Fast Track List and is listed for an interlocutory hearing in Melbourne on 16 December 2014 at 2:15pm before Justice Gordon.

Electronics Bazaar has been contacted for comment.

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