The Federal Court has today ordered Booktopia Pty Ltd (Booktopia) pay $6 million in penalties for making false or misleading representations on its website, and in dealings with consumers, about consumer guarantee rights.
Booktopia admitted that from at least 10 January 2020 to 2 November 2021, Booktopia made misleading statements in its online Terms of Business that consumers were only entitled to a refund, repair or replacement if they notified Booktopia within 2 business days of receiving a product that was faulty or not what they ordered.
Booktopia also admitted that its Terms of Business contained misleading representations, by stating that consumers were not entitled to a refund for digital products such as eBooks for any reason, including if the product was faulty.
Booktopia also admitted that it made misleading statements to 19 individual consumers in customer service calls by advising the consumers that it did not have an obligation to provide a refund or replacement if the consumer had not notified Booktopia within 2 business days of delivery, even if the product was faulty.
“Booktopia made misleading statements to consumers, telling them they were only entitled to a refund if they contacted them about a problem with their purchase within 2 business days of delivery,” ACCC Commissioner, Liza Carver said.
“Consumers are entitled to return faulty products within a reasonable time and receive a refund, repair, or replacement, depending on the nature of the fault.”
“We do not know how many consumers may have been deterred from seeking a refund or replacement by Booktopia’s misleading representations on its website,” Ms Carver said.
In addition to ordering a $6m penalty, the Court ordered Booktopia to publish a notice on its website within 21 days correcting the false or misleading claims, and to establish a consumer law compliance program.
The ACCC and Booktopia made joint submissions in relation to penalty and other relief in this matter. The penalty figure put to the Court took into account Booktopia’s cooperation and financial position.
On 10 December 2021 the ACCC instituted proceedings against Booktopia.
Booktopia is Australia’s largest online bookseller. Through the Booktopia Website, Booktopia supplies physical books, magazines, calendars, maps, stationery, games and puzzles, and also digital content such as eBooks and audio books, to consumers in Australia.
Under Australian Consumer Law, a consumer is entitled to a refund or replacement, or may request a repair, within a reasonable timeframe if something they bought has a major fault.
Businesses cannot place restrictions on consumer rights.
More information at Consumer rights and guarantees.
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