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ACCC cracks down on dodgy charitable claims

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Eyewear company Oscar Wylee is in hot water following claims by the ACCC that it made false or misleading claims about donations made to charity.

Oscar Wylee represented that for each pair of glasses purchased from their stores, a pair was donated to a good cause. It appears, however, that these charitable claims were overstated.

The ACCC has taken legal action in the Federal Court, claiming the company:

  • “engaged in conduct that was misleading and deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive, in contravention of s 18 of the ACL;
  • made false or misleading representations as to the benefits of its optometry and eyewear goods or services, in contravention of s 29(1)(g) of the ACL; and
  • engaged in conduct that was liable to mislead the public as to the quantity of goods, namely one pair for the customer and one pair to be donated, in contravention of s 33 of the ACL.”

These false representations are said to have occurred 13 January 2014 to 31 December 2018. The ACCC says that while Oscar Wylee sold 328,010 pairs of glasses in this period, it only donated 3,181 pairs.

The ACCC also claims that Oscar Wylee represented that it had an affiliation or partnership with Rose Charities. However, during the period 13 January 2014 to 31 December 2018 Oscar Wylee allegedly only appeared to donate $2,000 and 100 glasses frames to that charity.

“Consumers may have chosen Oscar Wylee over other eyewear companies because they believed their purchase would result in Oscar Wylee providing glasses to people in need and supporting a sustainable eye care program in Cambodia,” said ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.

Oscar Wylee has refuted the claims, stating “[we] utterly reject the allegations made by the ACCC, which do not reflect the range and scale of the community and charitable contributions made by Oscar Wylee.”

The ACCC is seeking declarations, orders for pecuniary penalties, injunctions, corrective publication orders and an order for Oscar Wylee to implement a compliance program.

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