Millell Pty Ltd, trading as Pet Circle, has paid penalties of $26,640 after the ACCC issued it with two infringement notices for allegedly making false or misleading representations on its website to two customers about the price of goods at ‘checkout’ when completing a purchase of pet supplies using the Pet Circle website.
The impacted customers had used Pet Circle discount codes or vouchers, which were applied at the point of sale.
However, the total order price displayed, which was represented as including the discount of $15 and $20 respectively, was incorrect as customers were later charged an additional amount equal to the discount code or voucher.
“As a result of ACCC action, Pet Circle has committed to reimburse all 5,400 customers who were charged a higher price than displayed at checkout,” ACCC Commissioner Liza Carver said.
The ACCC has accepted a court-enforceable undertaking from Pet Circle where it admitted that this conduct likely contravened the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), and has agreed not to charge customers any additional amounts after completing the checkout process in future.
In addition, from at least June 2019 to April 2023, Pet Circle advertised a range of products on its website with the statement “Don’t pay $X, save Y%”.
The ACCC alleges that Pet Circle’s statement represented to consumers that the higher ‘Don’t pay’ price was a price that Pet Circle, or one of its competitors, had recently sold the product for. Pet Circle admitted that this was not the case and often the higher price was the Recommended Retail Price of the manufacturer.
In the undertaking provided to the ACCC, Pet Circle admitted that this conduct also likely contravened the ACL. Pet Circle has undertaken not to publish a ‘Don’t Pay’ statement when advertising its products unless the published price is a genuine reflection of the price recently offered by Pet Circle or any other retailer in the market for the same product.
Pet Circle has also undertaken to establish and maintain an ACL compliance program.
“Online markets need to function well to support the modern economy. Part of that is ensuring consumers have the confidence they need to buy online. This requires retailers to accurately reflect the prices of goods sold on their websites,” Ms Carver said.
A copy of the undertaking is available at https://www.accc.gov.au/public-registers/undertakings-registers/millell-pty-ltd-trading-as-pet-circle.
Pet Circle is the largest Australian online retailer of pet food and supplies, accounting for about 45 per cent of the market.
Note to editors
The payment of a penalty specified in an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the Australian Consumer Law, which also sets the penalty amount.
The ACCC can issue an infringement notice when it has reasonable grounds to believe a person or business has contravened certain consumer protection provisions in the Australian Consumer Law.