An online electronics retailer and its director have been slammed by the Federal Court of Australia for engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct over the offer for sale of electronic goods on websites including www.ozdirect.com, www.ozdirect.com.au and www.ausbuys.com
Justice Rares made court orders declaring that Ozdirect accepted payment from consumers for goods it knew, or ought reasonably to have known, it would not be able to supply within a reasonable time. In his judgment, Justice Rares noted that Ozdirect had accepted orders and payments from a significant number of customers whilst it was on credit hold with its suppliers.
The court orders followed ACCC action in July last year over its alleged conduct in contraventions of the Trade Practices Act 1974.
The court also declared that Ozdirect had made misrepresentations to consumers, including about the availability and likely delivery times of items advertised for sale, as well as the reasons for the delay in delivery of goods.
"Obviously such conduct is commercially unacceptable as well as being misleading or deceptive, and such dishonest conduct cannot be permitted or encouraged," said Rares.
The court also found that Ozdirect had made a number of misleading statements about consumer rights, including that consumers who wished to seek a refund for faulty goods had only three days to make a claim and would only be entitled to a refund by way of a credit note.
Rares found that Ozdirect's conduct was misleading or deceptive and contravened sections 52, 53(g) and 58 of the Act, and that Albright was knowingly concerned in that conduct.
The injunctions include an order restraining Ozdirect from accepting payment for goods when there are reasonable grounds, of which it is aware or ought reasonably to be aware, to believe that it will not be able to supply the goods within a reasonable time, and an order restraining Ozdirect from making misleading representations to consumers regarding the availability of goods advertised on its websites. Ozdirect is also restrained from making certain misleading representations regarding the provision of refunds to consumers.
ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said this judgment signals the court's disapproval of the type of dishonest behaviour.
"Other online retailers need to be aware that if they take payment from consumers for goods that they are not able to supply, they will risk similar court action by the ACCC."
The ACCC understands that Ozdirect has ceased trading and Albright's wherereabouts are now unknown.