ACCC's product safety pledge improves consumer safety online

19 November 2021

Over 90 per cent of identified unsafe product listings were removed within two business days by online businesses signed up to the Australian Product Safety Pledge.

The voluntary initiative commits signatories to 12 product safety actions, that go beyond ordinary legal requirements, and which aim to prevent the sale of unsafe goods online.    

While unsafe products present a risk of injury or death year-round, the ACCC is reminding consumers to shop safely during the pre-Christmas sales. It is estimated that at least two people die and 145 people a day are injured and require medical attention as a result of unsafe products.

The first report on how signatories to the pledge have performed against the commitments, released today, highlights some of the ways businesses have addressed product safety risks through technological enhancements.

“We are pleased with the measures implemented by the signatories which are helping to ensure consumers can have a safer experience when shopping online,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“We welcome and encourage other online businesses, particularly those facilitating marketplace services, to join the pledge to further strengthen online marketplace safety.”

Online businesses facilitating marketplace services that are interested in strengthening their product safety policies are encouraged to visit the Australian Product Safety Pledge website for more information.

Some of the new innovations used by current signatories include predictive technology and web crawling to ensure that unsafe product listings are removed as soon as possible.

The current signatories to the pledge are AliExpress, Amazon Australia, Catch.com.au, eBay Australia and MyDeal.com.au, which together account for a significant share of online sales in Australia.

The ACCC has also worked with the OECD in issuing a communique that encourages international regulators to adopt consistent product safety pledges worldwide.

“With the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales we are also urging shoppers to be careful and consider product safety when buying online,” Ms Rickard said.

“It’s important to know who you are buying from; make sure you do your research and read online customer reviews about the seller or product.”

Consumers are also encouraged to check the ACCC’s shopping online safely tips on the Product Safety Australia website before buying products online.

“Some children’s toys and clothing are required to display safety warnings, look out for them on the product listing and check if the product is age appropriate before buying,” Ms Rickard said.

In Australia, around one in 10 product safety recall notices relate to unsafe toys, posing risks to children ranging from injuries such as cuts, bruising or burns, to choking and suffocation. The ACCC has previously estimated that one in every four households contain an unsafe product that has been recalled.

Background

The Australian Product Safety Pledge was modelled on a similar initiative in the European Union that has been successful in removing dangerous products from online marketplaces.

The pledge is voluntary and outlines good practice approaches expected of industry. The ACCC encourages online businesses that facilitate marketplace services and the supply of products to Australian consumers to adopt the pledge.

The ACCC supports businesses in their efforts to comply with the pledge by maintaining and updating the Product Safety Australia website, facilitating regular meetings with signatories and sharing information on emerging product safety issues.

Adopting the pledge does not replace the need to ensure overall compliance with the Competition and Consumer Act, including the Australian Consumer Law, or other relevant legislation. It does not prevent the ACCC or other regulatory authorities from taking action against signatories for breaches of the legislation.

In the context of the pledge signatories include, but are not limited to, online businesses that facilitate marketplace services, or are a hybrid marketplace and retailer engaging in business to consumer or consumer to consumer transactions via the internet.

Online businesses, particularly those facilitating marketplace services, that are interested in taking the pledge to strengthen their product safety policies are encouraged to visit the Product Safety Australia website for more information.

Release number: 
182/21
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Media enquiries: 
Media Team - 1300 138 917, media@accc.gov.au

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