Competition and Consumer Act 2010

ACCC takes action against hearing aid retailers for misleading pensioners

The ACCC has commenced proceedings against hearing aid retailers Oticon Australia Pty Ltd and Sonic Innovations Pty Ltd, alleging that both businesses made false and misleading representations to pensioners in advertisements for hearing aids supplied under the Australian Government Hearing Services Program.

The advertisements were published on 85 occasions in newspapers around Australia from June to November 2017 under the AudioClinic and HearingLife brands. Oticon and Sonic sold more than 10 000 of the advertised Oticon Ria2 and Sonic Cheer20 hearing aids.

Heinz ordered to pay $2.25 million penalty over misleading health claim

The Federal Court of Australia has ordered H.J. Heinz Company Australia Ltd (Heinz) to pay penalties totalling $2.25 million for making a misleading health claim that its Little Kids Shredz products were beneficial for young children.

In March 2018, the Federal Court found that Heinz had breached the Australian Consumer Law by claiming its Shredz products were beneficial to the health of children aged 1-3 years, when this was not the case.

Court orders penalties of $5.5m against Palram and Ampelite for exclusive dealing

The Federal Court of Australia has declared by consent that Palram Australia and Ampelite Australia engaged in exclusive dealing conduct with the purpose of substantially lessening competition, and has ordered them to pay penalties totaling $5.5 million.

Palram and Ampelite are two of Australia’s largest distributors of polycarbonate roofing (Polycarb) to retail stores under the brands ‘Suntuf’ and ‘Solasafe’. Polycarb is commonly used to build residential pergolas.

ACCC to further increase enforcement work

Over the next year the ACCC will further increase its enforcement action, expand its work on data, algorithms and digital platforms, and increase the use of its powers to gather evidence in complex merger investigations, ACCC Chair Rod Sims told the members at the Law Council of Australia’s Business Law Section annual general meeting held in Sydney tonight.

Recently, the ACCC has won three significant consumer protection penalties: $10m for Telstra; $10m for Ford; and $9m for Apple.

Empowering consumers against companies

The ACCC will continue to give a voice to consumers and push companies to live up to their responsibilities, ACCC Chair Rod Sims told the West Australian Australian-Israeli Chamber of Commerce in Perth today.

“Our enforcement team here in Perth, for example, has taken a lead role in important areas in the last few years, including franchising matters and unfair contract terms impacting small business, as well as taking part in a number of high profile investigations,” Mr Sims said.

Cases spearheaded by the WA team include:

One Big Switch pays penalties over electricity discount and savings claims

Revtech Media, the company behind group-discount website One Big Switch, has paid penalties of $25,200 after the ACCC issued two infringement notices for alleged false and misleading energy price representations.

Between July and November 2017, One Big Switch advertised a 27 per cent discount for consumers in south east Queensland who switched to Click Energy’s ‘Big Switch Up’ offer.

ACCC seeks Special Leave to appeal Full Federal Court’s Pfizer judgment

The ACCC has sought Special Leave from the High Court to appeal the Full Federal Court‘s judgment of 25 May 2018 which upheld the dismissal of allegations against Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd (Pfizer) by the trial judge.

The ACCC alleges that Pfizer misused its substantial market power and engaged in exclusive dealing conduct for an anti-competitive purpose in breach of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA).