The competition watchdog has warned online ‘daily deals’ retailers against misleading shoppers after launching legal action against major player Spreets.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission claims Spreets made false representations about the price of some deals, consumers’ ability to redeem vouchers and their rights to a refund, during 2011 and 2012.
At the time, Spreets was one of the largest online group buying websites, offering discount vouchers to shoppers through its website, promotional emails and social media campaigns.
Spreets has since stopped offering deals direct to the public, and now gathers and publishes deals offered by other retailers and online groups.
The retailer is facing possible fines as a result of the ACCC’s Federal Court action.
Chairman Rod Sims said many complaints have been received by the ACCC since online group buying emerged in 2010.
“Businesses selling to consumers online have the same obligations under the Australian Consumer Law as all other businesses, and consumer guarantees, including refund rights, apply when consumers purchase online,” Mr Sims said.
“Online businesses must ensure that they do not mislead consumers and that the price and any restrictions on a deal being offered are clearly and accurately stated.”
The watchdog has already successfully pursued Scoopon for misleading conduct, with that retailer fined $1 million in December for misleading consumers about prices and their refund rights, and deceiving businesses about the risks involved in offering a deal through Scoopon.