The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (the ACCC) has released a revised Advertising and Selling Guide to highlight the legal rights and obligations of businesses when selling or promoting products and services under the Australian Consumer Law (the ACL).
The Guide provides businesses and their advertising agencies with detailed and practical information about how the ACL applies to their selling and promotional activities. Following on from recent ACCC enforcement action, including the Federal Court penalising Zamel’s $250,000 for misleading consumers in relation to “was/now” pricing for jewellery, the new Guide sets out clearer guidelines for businesses using “was/now” pricing.
New content included in this Guide covers online marketing vehicles, a new trend in social media marketing, online reviews and online group buying. The new online marketing sections in the guide were included following the Federal Court’s recent penalty of $1 million over the buying website Scoopon for ‘misleading businesses’ about the costs and risks of running deals on the site.
These examples both provide caution to businesses when selling or promoting their products and services, especially if in the online marketing sphere. With over 40% of businesses using online marketing vehicles, it is important, now more than ever, to ensure that your online marketing does not breach the ACL to avoid harsh penalties.
The ACCC also outlines in the new Guide its recommendations for the advertising issues including:
- Moderation Policies for website homepages when used in conjunction with social media;
- Country of Origin Labelling;
- Carbon Price Claims;
- Misleading and Deceptive conduct;
- Reviews and testimonials;
- Online group buying; and
- Environmental and organic merits
As the Federal Court has become very tough with penalties imposed upon businesses that breach the ACL, now is a great time to audit your advertising policies to ensure that they comply with the ACL.