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Not new at all! Online retailers admit to breaches of ACL

Online electronics retailers, BecexTech and TCF Global Ltd (which operates Techrific and CatchDeal) have admitted to contravening the Australian Consumer Law and provided court-enforceable undertakings to the ACCC.

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Until September 2017, BecexTech, Techrific and CatchDeal advertised electronic goods such as mobile phones and tablet computers as “new”, when they were in fact refurbished.  

Over the last year, the ACCC received 96 complaints about BecexTech, 34 complaints about Techrific and 60 complaints about CatchDeal.

BecexTech also admitted to misleading consumers about their rights by falsely claiming they were not bound by the Australian Consumer Law as they were incorporated overseas.

“When you sell a product as new but it is made of used parts, you are clearly breaching the law by making a false or misleading representation,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“If you carry on a business in Australia, you are bound by the Australian Consumer Law. All Australian consumers are protected by consumer guarantees, and they cannot be limited or excluded.”

“If a product does not match descriptions made by a salesperson or on a business’ website, consumers can seek remedies from the retailer, including a replacement or a refund,” Ms Rickard said.

Both BXT International and TCF Global have undertaken to:

  • clarify when products are refurbished or are not Australian market versions of those products on their website
  • contact and offer redress to certain consumers who were either misled into purchasing refurbished products or were misled as to their rights under the ACL.
  • implement an ACL compliance program, including staff training and regular reviews;
  • publish a notice notifying consumers about these undertaking and not engage in this type of conduct any further.

BXT International has also undertaken to:

  • cease its practice of ‘pre-selecting’ for purchase items additional to those which a consumer actually intends to purchase; and
  • revise its warranty policy to clarify it does not limit or exclude consumer guarantees.

Examples of consumer complaints…

One consumer spent $608.95 on an Apple iPhone 6 from BecexTech, believing that the product was new. After the iPhone failed within three days, the consumer took the phone to an Apple store only to be told that that same phone had previously been purchased two years prior in the United States.

One consumer purchased from CatchDeal an iPhone 6 for $539 and an iPhone 6 Plus for $609 in March 2017. Both phones were contained the words ‘New Sealed Box’ in their titles. The consumer was later informed by Apple that both products were used and had previously been purchased in 2015. Both phones had been repaired with third party displays.

Another consumer purchased a Samsung Galaxy S5 for $449 from Techrific in February 2016, which was advertised as being in a ‘sealed box’. Within three months, the screen began to fail. The consumer took the phone to an authorised Samsung repairer who informed her that the phone was a refurbished model, and that the water damage indicator inside the phone had been replaced with a third party version. The consumer was given only a partial refund of $369.

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