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?