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How new consumer rights will affect Australian retailers

4 May 2018, by Amy Sarcevic

This year, US-based gaming company Valve Corporation was famously ordered to pay $3million AUD for failing to comply with Australian Consumer Laws.

The firm unsuccessfully appealed the ‘misleading and deceptive conduct’ outcome with the Full Federal Court; and its application for special leave to appeal to the High Court was later denied.

With upcoming changes to the ACL and increasingly high penalties for breaches, many retailers are justifiably concerned about how the ACL affects their business.

Ahead of the Consumer Law Conference, Dentons Partner, Lynsey Edgar, touches on what exactly retailers need to be aware of.

“The ACL provides solid protection for consumers, particularly because of the consumer guarantees regime and, for online retailers, the prohibitions against unfair contract terms”, she says.

“It is important for retailers to be up to date with the proposed ACL reforms, particularly with such high penalties at stake”.

“With consumers also having increased awareness of their rights, retailers can expect to see an increase in customers coming back to them and saying, ‘this product isn’t of acceptable quality’. The likelihood of increased customer complaints warrants  a strong focus on compliance”.

Lynsey also warns that some retailers might be unaware of the wider implications of some contraventions of the ACL.

“For example, telling a customer that they are not entitled to a refund when they are entitled to a refund breaches the consumer guarantees, but it is also a false representation which can lead to penalties of $1.1million”, she says.

“The various issues in this space can be complex and are often required to be dealt with by sales representatives on the retail floor, which can be difficult.  It’s important for retailers to have good procedures which comply with the ACL”.

Lynsey Edgar will present a paper at the Consumer Law Conference – to be held 14-15 May in Sydney.

Using detailed examples she will discuss the ACCC’s enforcement priorities for 2018 and the very latest advice and guidelines for Australian retailers.

Learn more and book your place.

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