13th Nov 2018
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How to ensure the safety of products you buy online
Author: Ben Hocking
How to make sure products are safe

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is targeting the increasing number of unsafe consumer products that are being sold online as part of International Product Safety Week.

International transactions are becoming more common, with Australians purchasing $21.3 billion worth of products online last year.

All products sold in Australia must comply with Australian product safety laws whether bought in a local store or online from overseas.

“Under Australian Consumer Law, anyone selling products to Australian consumers must ensure their products aren’t banned here and that they meet Australia’s 42 mandatory safety standards, no matter where they are located in the world,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

Ms Rickard urged consumers to do their research before purchasing items online.

“Online shoppers are particularly exposed to injury or illness risks because they cannot physically examine products and their labelling as they would when shopping in store,” Ms Rickard said.

“People should check online ratings and reviews, which may indicate any safety issues other consumers have experienced.

“Always read safety warnings and follow instructions. People can also report unsafe products to the ACCC or their consumer protection agency,” she said.

The ACCC has been working proactively with online selling platforms such as eBay, Etsy, AliExpress, Gumtree and Catch.com.au to improve product safety compliance in the online marketplace. 

These platforms are undertaking a range of activities to improve awareness of unsafe products, including sending tailored compliance alerts and information to sellers about Australian regulations, and putting processes in place that enable swifter removal of listings that consist of unsafe products.

Some platforms have been stronger than others on managing product safety compliance. The ACCC encourages other platforms to adopt proactive processes such as requiring product safety compliance certificates, to help ensure only compliant products can be listed on their sites.

“It’s essential that sellers provide product safety information such as labels, warnings and descriptions in their listings,” Ms Rickard said.

“All platforms open to consumers also need to emphasise to their sellers the importance of product safety compliance, and work swiftly with regulators to remove listings of unsafe products. Ideally, they should also have systems that automatically search for and remove non-complying goods.

“If any products don’t comply with Australian regulations, we expect online suppliers and marketplaces to stop them being sold in Australia.”

More information is also available at www.productsafety.gov.au/safeproductsonline.

Do you read product reviews before making purchases online? If not, have you ever been burned by buying an unsafe product?

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    COMMENTS

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    pedro the swift
    14th Nov 2018
    11:03am
    The regulatory authorities here don't do enough to stop importers bringing all sorts of rubbish that turns out to be dangerous in some way.
    Surely they could put in place some regime whereby ANY product imported needs to pass safety standards before being put on sale. Costs for compliance should be at importers expense.
    Just look at the Product Safety Recall site and see how many useless items are brought in to OZ and then have to be recalled cos they they are found to be unsafe or not comply with regulations. For goodness sake , give the regulatory people some real "teeth" to ensure unsafe products are not allowed in in any way.
    GeorgeM
    14th Nov 2018
    12:20pm
    What a load of bureaucratic BS from ACCC!

    "People should check.........", “If any products don’t comply with Australian regulations, we expect online suppliers and marketplaces to stop them being sold in Australia.” That's it?

    Can we have information of how many prosecutions ACCC have launched, how many products and suppliers they have banned, and how many / how much have the fined, etc. Good to have rules, but do they have ANY TEETH? And do they actually take any action?
    KSS
    14th Nov 2018
    12:57pm
    Don't ACCC have enough work to do with products in Australia without now targeting overseas sellers?

    When the ACCC can show they act quickly against sellers in Australia then they can start preaching to others. Consider their inaction over Thermomix, Samsung exploding phones, airbags, exploding hoverboards to name just a few recent issues.

    Coming into the silly season, can they assure Australian customers that all the children's toys on sale at markets and $2 shops and other discount stores comply with all Australian safety standards? After all many even have a ISO number on the packaging!
    jaycee1
    15th Nov 2018
    12:00pm
    Having bought from overseas for years, very seldom is there a problem. Have had more problems with items bought within Australia. Trying to get an exchange or refund can be an exercise in futility, especially in Harvey Norman's. Do NOT buy computers [or any kind of IT] from Harvey Norman you will be fobbed off with out of date / un-upgradable crap even while they swear blind that it is the newest model.
    A few years ago ended up having to take my son in to get a refundas they refused to listen to me. I am not an expert on computers BUT having worked with them for years I do know what it is meant to do and how they are meant to sound when on but the salesman refused to listen to me when I was trying to tell him what was wrong with the computer. Kept going on about how 'old' people don't understand computers and to just let it settle down it would sort itself out.
    My son, who works with computers and is an expert in his field, came out - listened to my computer, put it in the back of his car and took it back to Harvey Norman where he proceeded to tell the salesman what was wrong with the computer, asked to speak to the manager [which had been refused to me] - end of story I was refunded my money and received an apology for having to go back 4 times to get problem fixed.
    Still do not shop at Harvey Norman EVER.
    jaycee1
    15th Nov 2018
    12:07pm
    As I have said have bought from overseas for years and I think the ACCC should be looking into the unfair paying of GST.
    Don't get me wrong, I have no problem paying GST on new items bought overseas [still pay 25 - 50% less than in Australia even with GST. -mainly books and dvd's] BUT I object to paying GST on second hand items that have already been taxed in the country of origin. You don't get taxed for a used item here so why should you be taxed for one bought overseas?
    musicveg
    17th Nov 2018
    9:46pm
    I agree, they are double dipping on the tax. Also why is it that postage costs are so much cheaper if you buy from overseas than Australia yet they travel the same route once they get to Australia? More people would buy locally if postage costs were cheaper in Australia.


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