The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued proceedings in the Federal Court against the operator of the online electronics grey marketer Electronic Bazaar for alleged breaches of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
Electronic Bazaar (aka ‘Top End Electronics’) offers an extensive range of leading-brand cameras from compacts right up to high-end Canon and Nikon SLRs, and even Leicas and Hasselblads. It also has a massive lens range. It claims on its FAQ page that ‘all our prices include GST and if shipped from overseas include all duty and taxes.’
However, it only offers a tax invoice on request. Electronic Bazaar pricing undercuts authorised local retailers by 20 percent or more.
The alleged representations include statements to the effect that consumers who purchased goods through the Electronic Bazaar website were not entitled to a refund for goods which were no longer under an express warranty; or where the goods had been used or not in original condition or packaging; or unless the goods were faulty on arrival; or unless a claim was made within a specified time period.
It is also alleged that Mr Chopra made false or misleading representations that consumers’ refund rights were against a company called ‘Unreal Technologies’ or ‘Unreal Technology Private Limited’, when both of those companies were, literally, unreal.
Elsewhere on the website it is stated that ‘the pricing guidelines are translucent and fair.’
‘Consumers are entitled to receive a refund, repair or replacement including when the goods purchased are faulty or do not match their description. Traders cannot impose terms and conditions that exclude or waive these consumer guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law.’
The ACCC also alleges that Mr Chopra wrongly accepted payment and then did not supplying goods within the specified time or, where no time was specified, within a reasonable time.
The ACCC is seeking interim injunctions against Mr Chopra to restrain Mr Chopra from continuing to engage in the alleged conduct. The ACCC is also seeking pecuniary penalties, declarations that Mr Chopra contravened the ACL, final injunctions and costs.
The matter has been filed in the Federal Court’s Fast Track List and is listed for an interlocutory hearing in Melbourne on December 16.
(Consumer feedback on Electronic Bazaar is almost universally negative, to the point of being alarming. And it’s not as if they just popped up yesterday – some of these complaints go back many years. The ACCC may have bumped into the tip of the iceberg.)