US eCommerce site for entrepreneurs slammed by ACCC for misleading conduct

An American eCommerce and marketing company designed for entrepreneurs has been slammed by the Federal Court and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for making misleading and deceptive representations of its products while in Australia.

The court found that StoresOnline International, and StoresOnline, misrepresented the prices of their products and services, with the case being the second proceeding in total taken against the company by the ACCC. Each case was for alleged misleading and deceptive conduct.

Justice Edmonds of the Federal Court found that since October 2006, StoresOnline had breached the Trade Practices Act by misrepresenting the actual prices of their products.

The company offers a range of services for entrepreneurs and small businesses including eCommerce solutions, marketing assistance, web hosting services and search engine optimisation packages.

The company said at its Australian workshops and seminars that packages had been offered for sale in Australia at a “full” price, while in reality products were not offered at that price at all.

Additionally, the company said it intended to offer packages for sale to workshop attendees at a particular officer price up to 90 days after the seminar, but the company actually had no intention of doing so and the packages were not put up for sale.

The company also said there was a difference in price between the normal package price and the 90-day offer package price, but in reality, no such savings existed.

The Court found there was misleading and deceptive conduct in the promotion and sales of the home business packages, with Justice Eadmonds saying that StoresOnline International was “all over this case”. Both entities have been ordered to undertake court injunctions, and pay the ACCC’s legal costs.

ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said in a statement that the case demonstrates how far the watchdog is willing to go against international companies when they deceive Australian residents.

“International corporations are on notice that if they mislead or deceive Australian
consumers they will risk similar court action by the ACCC,” he said.

SmartCompany contacted StoresOnline for comment, but no reply was received before publication.


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