The free range egg debate continues to (hard) boil with the ACCC
initiating proceedings late last year against 3 different companies
(Derodi, Holland Farms and Darling Downs) for their "free
range" egg claims. The prosecutions followed an ACCC win
against Pirovic eggs for misleading free range claims.
The ACCC's position is that 'free range' means that
the laying hens should be able to go outside and move around freely
on an open range on most days (cue rolling hills, feathers blowing
in the wind, slow motion...). The tough part for egg producers is
that the regulator won't mandate a standard, and non-compulsory
standards vary substantially. The ACCC is intent on cracking down
on the industry, which should encourage more transparency by
In the meantime, if you're serious about letting your hens
run free, you might want to do some research before assuming your
eggs are morally virtuous.
Sneakers not the answer
So, apparently Miranda Kerr's looks are not attributable to
her Reeboks; who would have guessed? For those who purchased a pair
of Reebok EasyTone shoes in the hope of becoming a Victoria's
Secret Angel, we have some bad news. Reebok has been ordered to pay
a penalty of $350,000 for claiming on their shoe boxes, tags and
promotional material, that walking in their EasyTone shoes would
increase the strength and muscle tone of the consumer's calves,
thighs and buttocks.
The Court found Reebok's claims were unfounded and in
addition to the penalty required Reebok to provide a refund of $35
to customers who had purchased the shoes.
Homeopathic treatments whooped
Homeopathy Plus! and its director, Frances Sheffield (and no,
that's not the nanny named Fran) falsely claimed that the
whooping cough vaccine was ineffective at preventing whooping cough
and that homeopathic remedies were a safe alternative to the
The Court found that there was no scientific or medical basis
for the claims made by Homeopathy Plus! and that they were
completely against the advice of the government and medical
professionals. This is the second time that the company has been
pursued by the ACCC; in 2012 it removed similar claims from its
website after requests to do so by the ACCC. The claims reappeared
on the website in 2013, which led to the recent ACCC
Dirty laundry for appliance companies
As part of its focus on consumer guarantees, the ACCC instigated
proceedings against Fisher & Paykel and Domestic & General
for sending letters to consumers which stated that they would not
be protected against repair costs for their appliance after the
manufacturer's warranty period unless they purchased an
Despite the letters containing fine print directing the
consumers to the relevant parts of the Australian Consumer Law, the
Court found that the letters were misleading and each company was
ordered to pay a penalty of $200,000.
There are two lessons from this one. First, qualifying
statements heavily or changing their meaning in a disclaimer is a
dangerous game. Second, the ACCC is pretty dubious about extended
warranty offers given that the ACL statutory guarantees apply for
as long as is reasonable.
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The Sportscraft refunds and returns policy limitations went beyond consumer's rights under the Australian Consumer Law.
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