Celebrating 10 years of wins under Australian Consumer Law
On March 15, the NSW Government is celebrating not only World Consumer Rights Day but also the 10-year anniversary of Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
On 1 January 2011, the ACL was implemented, replacing 17 Commonwealth, state and territory consumer protection laws, the largest overhaul of Australia’s consumer laws in 25 years.
NSW Fair Trading has led the charge on a number of successful investigations that have had a national impact and changed the landscape of certain industries for good.
Lead in Hashmi kohl eyeliner
In 2018, after imported kohl eyeliners caused lead poisoning in 3 children, NSW Fair Trading and NSW Health undertook joint inspections of targeted locations in Western Sydney to locate and purchase suspected non-compliant Hashmi brand cosmetics. The products were believed to be manufactured in Pakistan and imported to Australia.
Testing of these products showed dangerous lead content of up to 84% and high levels of dangerous metals like arsenic, cadmium, chromium and mercury.
Collaboration by ACL regulators throughout Australia and NSW Health resulted in suppliers removing the products from sale and conducting voluntary recalls.
Android Enjoyed and Camera Sky
In 2019, online electronics retailer Android Enjoyed and Camera Sky was fined a record $3.15 million after it failed to deliver mobile phones, cameras and other electronic goods to customers across Australia. This was the highest fine ever obtained by NSW Fair Trading.
VET FEE-HELP training providers
In 2016, unscrupulous higher education providers targeted vulnerable consumers with ‘free’ incentives like laptops and cash to get them to sign up for courses and large Government debts.
Many of the students enrolled were unable to read or understand what they were signing up for and therefore unlikely to be able to complete the courses but would have been left with significant student debt.
NSW Fair Trading and the ACCC found a number of institutions, including Australian Institute of Professional Education Pty Ltd (AIPE) and Unique International College Pty Ltd (Unique) were found to be engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct.
Another, Cornerstone Investments trading as Empower Institute, received a combined penalty of $26.5M and orders to repay $56 million in tertiary education funding to the Commonwealth. The investigation saw a revision of the VET FEE-HELP scheme.
In 2011, TV shopping company Danoz Direct agreed to change a number of their business practices after an investigation led by NSW Fair Trading on behalf of all Australian consumer protection agencies.
The investigation found a number of breaches of the ACL including misleading
representations about products and their true cost, difficult to access terms and conditions, non-delivery of goods and consumers continuing to be charged for goods they had returned.