E-commerce businesses pledge to strengthen product safety online

Four of Australia’s largest e-commerce businesses have confirmed their commitment to protecting consumers from unsafe goods online after signing on to a new product safety pledge.

The Australian Product Safety Pledge launched today, is a voluntary initiative that commits its signatories to a range of safety related responsibilities that go beyond what is legally required of them. AliExpress, Amazon Australia, Catch.com.au and eBay Australia, who together account for a significant share of online sales in Australia, are the first businesses to sign the pledge, signifying their commitment to consumers’ safety through a range of commitments such as removing unsafe product listings within two days of being notified by the ACCC.

“This new initiative is an important step forward in ensuring businesses provide consumers with a safe and trusted online shopping experience,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“The already fast growing e-commerce market in Australia has accelerated even more this year, as the pandemic meant people have had to do more of their shopping from home. With the boom in online shopping, it is more important than ever for businesses to prioritise product safety.”

The pledge consists of 12 product safety commitments and three measurable performance indicators, as well as guidance to assist signatories in fulfilling their commitments.

Signatories are required to report on their product safety performance at the end of each financial year to inform an annual public report by the ACCC.

“Improving product safety online is critical to building consumer confidence and trust,” Ms Rickard said.

“E-commerce giants like the four pledge signatories can help keep Australian consumers safe by preventing the sale of unsafe goods across their businesses,” Ms Rickard said.

“We applaud these signatories for signing up to the pledge and for confirming their commitment to protecting Australian consumers. We encourage them to continue to innovate to improve product safety,” Ms Rickard said.

The ACCC will be inviting other online businesses, particularly those facilitating marketplace services to sign the pledge and expects more signatories to join in subsequent years.

Online businesses that are interested in taking the pledge to strengthen their product safety policies are encouraged to visit the Product Safety Australia website for more information.

Background

In 2015, the ACCC led the OECD international online product safety sweep, which found high levels of non-compliance online:

  • There was a search for 693 banned or recalled products, and just over two-thirds (68 per cent) were found online.
  • Of the 136 products purchased and physically inspected, over half (54 per cent) did not comply with relevant product safety regulations.

The Australian Product Safety Pledge is the first framework of its kind that the ACCC has developed with the four inaugural signatories. It was modelled on a similar initiative in the European Union that has been successful in removing dangerous products from e-commerce businesses.

The pledge is voluntary and outlines good practice approaches expected of industry. The ACCC encourages online businesses that facilitate the supply of products to Australian consumers to adopt the pledge.

The ACCC supports businesses in their efforts to comply with the pledge by maintaining and updating the Product Safety Australia website, facilitating regular meetings with signatories and sharing information on emerging product safety issues.

Adopting the pledge does not replace the need to ensure overall compliance with the Competition and Consumer Act, including the Australian Consumer Law, or other relevant legislation. It does not prevent the ACCC or other regulatory authorities from taking action against signatories for breaches of the legislation.

In the context of the pledge signatories include, but are not limited to, online businesses that facilitate marketplace services, engaging in business to consumer or consumer to consumer transactions via the internet.

For more information, visit www.productsafety.gov.au/pledge.

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