The Federal Court of Australia has ordered Mr Dhruv Chopra, the sole operator of the online electronics store Electronic Bazaar, to pay penalties totalling $100,000 for contravening the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), in proceedings brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Electronic Bazaar sold camcorders, digital cameras, mobile phones, laptops, projectors, and other electronic goods through its website www.electronicbazaar.com.au. The Court declared that since at least 21 May 2014, Mr Chopra had made false or misleading representations to consumers about the availability of refunds and the extent of Electronic Bazaar’s liability for faulty goods.
These representations included that consumers were not entitled to a refund, repair, or replacement for goods in various circumstances, such as where the goods were no longer under an express warranty, where the goods had been used or were not in their original packaging, or unless a claim was made within a specified time period.
Mr Chopra was also found to have made false or misleading representations that consumers’ refund rights were against a company called “Unreal Technologies Private Limited” or “Unreal Technology Private Limited”, when neither of those companies existed.
The Court also declared that on four separate occasions between June 2012 and July 2014, Mr Chopra accepted payment for goods but failed to supply those goods to consumers within a specified, or reasonable, timeframe.
“The Court's decision to impose a significant penalty on Mr Chopra, a sole trader, for misrepresenting consumers' refund and warranty rights makes it clear that this conduct is a serious breach of the Australian Consumer Law. A consumer’s right to a refund, repair, or replacement in certain circumstances under the ACL consumer guarantees cannot be excluded or modified by terms or conditions published on a website,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“The penalty imposed in respect of failure to supply goods within a specified or reasonable timeframe also highlights the need for online traders to ensure that when accepting payments for goods, they must to be able to supply those goods within the stated timeframe, or otherwise within a reasonable period,” Mr Sims said.
The Court also ordered that Mr Chopra be restrained from engaging in similar conduct for a period of 5 years, undertake training on his obligations under the ACL and pay the ACCC's costs of the proceeding.
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