The ACCC today launched an unprecedented Federal Court case against Woolworths regarding the safety of several products the supermarket chain has historically sold through its various retail brands.
The five products include a drain cleaner, a deep fryer, a box of matches, a chair and a stool.
"The ACCC alleges that by offering these products for sale, Woolworths represented that they were safe when they were not, and that by continuing to sell them once it was aware these products may have caused serious injury Woolworths continued to make false or misleading representations that these products were safe," the ACCC said.
"Consumers are entitled to expect that the goods that they purchase from retailers are safe, and that retailers will act swiftly when product defects are subsequently identified, to avoid further potential harm to consumers,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said. “Companies should ensure that they have effective quality assurance processes in place to prevent unsafe products from reaching their shelves. This is particularly the case where companies look to reduce costs in their supply chain by directly sourcing home brand products from overseas manufacturers.”
The ACCC claims Woolworths knew the drain cleaner, deep fryer and matches were unsafe but continued to sell them. In the case of the chair and the stool, the ACCC alleges that neither sustain the advertised weight.
“All suppliers have an obligation to ensure that any product defects identified are dealt with swiftly to prevent harm to consumers," Rod Sims said. "This includes ensuring that any serious injury or illness associated with a product is reported promptly and that recall action is taken where appropriate.”
"The ACCC is seeking pecuniary penalties, declarations, injunctions, findings of fact, publicity orders, an order that Woolworths implement a product safety compliance program, an order that Woolworths publish information to raise consumer awareness about product safety and how to report safety incidents, and costs."
Directions will be heard in Sydney on 4 November 2014.