Sporting goods retailer Decathlon has been ordered to pay $1.5 million in penalties for selling basketball rings, backboards and portable swimming pools that did not comply with safety standards.
The Federal Court today found the French-owned retailer breached Australian Consumer Law when selling the products, after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) initiated legal proceedings in July 2020.
Decathlon has been operating in Australia since 2017. It has five physical stores in Melbourne and Sydney, in addition to its online store.
The breaches relate to 432 basketball rings and backboards and 307 portable swimming pools sold by Decathlon between January 2016 and December 2019.
The retailer admitted the products did not comply with relevant Australian mandatory safety standards. This included products not containing the correct safety labelling, consumer warnings or installation and use instructions.
For example, Decathlon sold 66 portable swimming pools that were over 30 centimetres deep without required warnings about the risks of children drowning in such pools.
More than 300 basketball rings and backboards were also sold with user manuals that suggested they were safe to attach to brickwork, when that wasn’t the case.
The Federal Court found the breaches of Australian Consumer Law occurred because of the retailer’s general lack of attention to its legal responsibilities. It also found the retailer failed to act in a timely way when contacted by the ACCC about the possible breaches.
ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said in a statement that Decathlon put consumers at risk of serious harm by not included important safety warnings with the products.
“Mandatory safety standards exist to reduce the risk of death and serious injury to consumers, especially children, when using these types of products,” Rickard said.
“It is illegal to sell products in Australia that do not comply with mandatory safety standards, and consumers have a right to expect that products they purchase will not endanger their safety, or the safety of their family and others.”
In a statement provided to SmartCompany, Decathlon said it withdrew the products in question in 2018, and implemented additional Australian market focused labelling compliance and quality assurance systems across the business. The company added that all its products now carry labels that adhere to Australian requirements.
“We are grateful to the ACCC and the Federal Court of Australia for their assistance in resolving the labelling issue,” said Decathlon Australia CEO Olivier Robinet.
“The ACCC plays an important role in working with businesses to keep the Australian community safe and informed and we value and respect their work.”
In addition to the fine, the Federal Court has ordered Decathlon to pay publish a corrective notice on its website, undertake a consumer law compliance program and pay the ACCC’s costs.