A Queensland retailer has been fined $55,000 for making misleading statements that its products were either made in Australia or 100% wool when they were neither, the competition regulator has confirmed.
The fine comes amid a political push to introduce stricter and more transparent labelling for home-grown and international products, with the Greens recently introducing legislation to make fruit and vegetables grown in Australia more recognisable to consumers.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has fined UNJ Millennium $55,000 after it admitted making false or misleading claims about sheepskin and wool bedding products.
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The company marketed these products to foreign tourists, “in particular to Korean and Chinese tourists visiting the Gold Coast”. The Federal Court said it sold products including rugs, car seat covers and pillows, using logos that claimed 100% wool when this wasn’t the case.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said these types of claims with wording like “100% pure wool” are marketing tactics designed to increase sales.
“Overseas tourists seek out and pay a premium to purchase genuine Australian made products, because they are perceived to be of high quality and value. Deception in this area, not only harms consumers, but has the potential to harm the reputation of Australian made goods internationally.”
This isn’t the first time the ACCC has issued this type of fine, and UNJ is certainly not the only company to cop a fine. Two years ago a company owned by Rich Lister Paul Lederer was hit with a fine for labelling imported pork as being Australian made – the fine was worth $233,325.
UNJ was contacted this morning, but a reply wasn’t available before publication.
Sims said customers need to be able to trust the information given on where a product comes from.
“It is simply not acceptable for retailers to make false claims on labels. The reputation of Australian manufacturers depends on consumers being confident that goods displaying these claims are indeed Australian made or pure wool.”
UNJ Millennium’s director Guen Uek Park was also ordered to contribute to the ACCC’s costs.