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Tuesday, 13 November 2018 10:07

ACCC teams up in global campaign on online products safety Featured

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ACCC teams up in global campaign on online products safety Image courtesy of ACCC

Australia’s competition watchdog, the ACCC, has joined the European Commission and 24 other countries in a new global campaign focused on reducing the number of unsafe consumer products being sold online.

As part of its involvement, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has been working proactively with a number of online selling platforms such as eBay, Etsy, AliExpress, Gumtree, and Catch.com.au to improve product safety compliance in the online marketplace.

The campaign — part of International Product Safety Week from 12 to 16 November — sees these platforms 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 include unsafe products.

The ACCC notes that cross-border transactions are becoming more common, and in 2017, Australians bought an estimated $21.3 billion worth of products online.

All products sold in Australia must comply with Australian product safety laws whether bought in a local store or online from overseas, and the global Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development campaign aims to highlight the importance of suppliers and online retailers being aware of the product safety rules and regulations in different countries.

“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.

She 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.

“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.”

Rickard says the ACCC has been working proactively with 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 include unsafe products.

According to the statement from the ACCC, some platforms have been stronger than others on managing product safety compliance, and the ACCC says it 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,” 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.”

The ACCC also is pushing for the introduction of a General Safety Provision, which it says would place a clear obligation on business to not sell unsafe products, and bring Australia in line with international safety regimes like Canada, Brazil, the UK and the European Union.

For tips and information throughout International Product Safety Week, and to access more information on product safety, click here.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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