Court orders Ashley & Martin to refund consumers over unfair contract terms

24 October 2019

The Federal Court has ordered hair loss treatment business Ashley & Martin to refund money paid by consumers as a result of unfair terms contained in its ‘Personal RealGROWTH Program’ hair loss treatment program.

The terms were used by Ashley & Martin from June 2014 until at least June 2017 across three standard form contracts and were found to be unfair by the Court earlier this year.

“Under these unfair contract terms, Ashley & Martin customers were required to pay for treatment before they had a chance to consider doctor’s advice,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.

“Consumers faced losing hundreds or thousands of dollars if they cancelled the contract, after considering medical advice or even if they developed side effects to the prescribed medication.”

The Court ordered Ashley & Martin to refund consumers who had entered the program between June 2014 and June 2017 before receiving medical advice, who had, as a result, asked to terminate their contract, or who had asked to terminate their contract because of the medical advice received.

Ashley & Martin were also ordered to refund consumers who had experienced side-effects from the medical treatment which meant they could no longer continue with the program.

“We welcome the Court’s decision to ensure affected consumers get a refund,” Ms Court said.

“The ACCC is continuing to take action against businesses that include and use unfair contract terms in their standard form contract with consumers and small business.”

Over 25,000 consumers were affected by the unfair contract terms across three standard contracts.

Consumers who are eligible for a refund will be contacted by Ashley & Martin. Ashley & Martin was also ordered to pay the ACCC’s legal costs.

Notes to editors

Under the Australian Consumer Law as it presently stands, it is not illegal for businesses to include or rely on an unfair contract terms against consumers. Although courts can declare unfair terms to be void and consequently unenforceable, they cannot impose penalties on companies using these unfair terms

The ACCC has advocated for a change in consumer law to make it illegal for businesses to include or rely on an unfair contract term against consumers and for the availability of penalties to be ordered against businesses.

The ACCC has welcomed the Government’s commitment in March this year to consult on options to strengthen protections for consumers.

Background

Ashley & Martin is an Australian company that provides hair loss treatment programs and hair replacement services to customers through its clinics in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

The ACCC’s guidance on unfair contract terms for consumers can be found at Unfair Contract Terms.

Release number: 
198/19
ACCC Infocentre: 

Use this form to make a general enquiry.

Media enquiries: 
Mobile 0408 995 408