Consumer watchdog slams retail group Super A-Mart with $13,000 in fines

Furniture, bedroom and outdoor furniture store Super A-Mart has paid two infringement notices following an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission over two separate breaches.

The ACCC ordered the fines after a South Australian store falsely represented some items for sale in August 2012 as not being part of consumer guarantee provisions, breaking Australian consumer laws.

Super A-Mart have now paid two notices totalling $13,200 and changed the labelling of its “floor stock” or “shop soiled” furniture.

TressCox Lawyers partner Alistair Little told SmartCompany cases like this are uncommon as the relevant legislation is fairly new.

“Although the act itself came into effect from the beginning of 2011, the guarantee provisions were delayed for a year or so to ensure everyone knew what the provisions were going to be, or at least the ACCC weren’t enforcing them,” he says.

Little says businesses were given notice to make the necessary changes to comply with the new laws.

“Companies were given quite a lot of notice, but to meet the requirements things like the way they advertise products and standard terms had to be changed,” he says.

This is not the first time the retailer has been in trouble with the ACCC for misleading representations.

In January 2007, Super A-Mart ran advertisements indicating it would clear all floor stock, but not all stock located on the floor was for sale.

On a second occasion in 2007, an advertising campaign claimed price reductions would only apply during the ‘Thursday Thumper Sale’, but the ACCC found some of the discounted items were the same price before the sale and on the day of the sale another item was made more expensive.

Following these instances, Super A-Mart promised to review the wording of its disclaimers, organise a trade practices compliance law program and place public notices in its stores and on its websites acknowledging these breaches.

SmartCompany contacted Super A-Mart but it failed to respond prior to publication.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in a statement Australian Consumer Law entitles consumers with some rights which cannot be removed.

“The consumer guarantee provisions of the ACL provide consumers with certain rights to remedies from retailers and manufacturers that cannot be excluded, restricted or otherwise modified.

“Consumer guarantees ensure that goods are of an acceptable quality and are fit for the purpose for which they are sold.

These rights apply unless the remedy sought relates to a defect that has been specifically drawn to the consumer’s attention,” Sims says.

Sims says all staff at an organisation should be aware of the consumer guarantee provisions.



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