Ozdirect Misled Consumers Says ACCC

Judgment finds against online retailer for misleading customers about refund policy and supply issues.

The Federal Court of Australia has declared that Ozdirect Online Brands, and company director Paul Albright, engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct over the offer for sale of electronic goods on websites including www.ozdirect.com, www.ozdirect.com.au and www.ausbuys.com.

The court orders follow Australian Competition and Consumer Commission action taken against the online electronics retailer and its director last July, alleging conduct in contravention of the Trade Practices Act 1974.

Justice Rares made orders declaring that Ozdirect accepted payment from consumers for goods it knew, or ought reasonably to have known, it would not be able to supply within a reasonable time. In his judgment, Justice Rares noted that Ozdirect had accepted orders and payments from a significant number of customers whilst it was on credit hold with its suppliers.

The court also declared that Ozdirect had made misrepresentations to consumers, including about the availability and likely delivery times of items advertised for sale, as well as the reasons for the delay in delivery of goods.

The court also found that Ozdirect had made a number of misleading statements about consumer rights, including that consumers who wished to seek a refund for faulty goods had only three days to make a claim and would only be entitled to a refund by way of a credit note.  Ozdirect and Mr Albright did not attend the hearing, which was held in December last year.

The injunctions include an order restraining Ozdirect from accepting payment for goods when there are reasonable grounds, of which it is aware or ought reasonably to be aware, to believe that it will not be able to supply the goods within a reasonable time, and an order restraining Ozdirect from making misleading representations to consumers regarding the availability of goods advertised on its websites.  Ozdirect is also restrained from making certain misleading representations regarding the provision of refunds to consumers.

The ACCC is aware that a substantial number of consumers may be awaiting refunds for goods that they purchased from Ozdirect and never received.  Affected consumers who have paid Ozdirect by credit card should check with their bank as to the possibility of seeking a charge-back on their credit card.