Legal

UK-based retailer Wiggle fined over refund policy

Matthew Elmas /

Another international retailer has been caught telling Australian customers they’re not subject to Australian Consumer Law.

Online sporting goods retailer Wiggle, which is based in the UK, has conceded its customer service staff “likely” misled customers about their right to remedies for faulty products.

The business has paid a $12,600 penalty in a court enforceable undertaking agreement with consumer watchdog the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

The ACCC alleges Wiggle told Aussies it was not subject to Australian Consumer Law, and customers needed to contact product manufacturers with faulty product complaints.

As ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard explained in a statement on Wednesday, that’s a no-no.

“Under the Australian Consumer Law, consumers are entitled to a repair, replacement or refund when there has been a major problem with the product. This law applies to all businesses that sell products to consumers in Australia, including overseas-based businesses,” she said.

It is also alleged Wiggle didn’t provide full refunds for faulty products that had been used by Australian consumers.

“Statements by retailers which seek to limit or exclude the Australian consumer guarantees are misleading and likely to contravene the Australian Consumer Law,” Rickard said.

Wiggle is not the first overseas business selling to Australian consumers that has run afoul of Australian Consumer Law.

Last year online video game marketplace Steam was ordered to pay $3 million in penalties after it was found to have made misleading representations regarding refunds.

Wiggle has committed to implementing an Australian Consumer Law compliance policy and has said it will train its customer service staff in compliance with Australian laws.

Wiggle has also amended the section on its website which previously stated only English and UK law applied to its transactions.

Adam Johnson, general manager of international for Wiggle, told SmartCompany via email that the company worked cooperatively with the ACCC.

“From our perspective as soon as we were alerted to the issue we worked proactively and cooperatively with the ACCC to resolve the matter and amend our website and customer service protocols,” he says.

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Matthew Elmas

Matthew is the news editor at SmartCompany.

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