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ACCC Hits Retailer For Dodgy Returns Policy

The ACCC has slammed Steinhoff Asia Pacific’s Freedom Furniture for allegedly misleading consumers about their right to refunds, contravening Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

Two infringements were issued after Freedom Furniture published the following statement on its website during August and September 2019:

“Furniture items cannot be returned or exchanged, except at Freedom’s absolute discretion.”

The ACCC was concerned consumers could not return faulty furniture unless Freedom Furniture allowed it, offering reasonable grounds to assume that the retailer breached the ACL with its misleading right to refunds policy statement.

“Retailers must not misrepresent consumer guarantee rights to their customers,” states ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.

“Under the Australian Consumer Law consumers have the right to ask for their choice of a repair, replacement or refund when they have purchased a product that has a fault which amounts to a major failure.”

Said to be Australia’s second-largest furniture retail group, Steinhoff Asia Pacific also owns retailers such as Fantastic Furniture, Plush and Snooze.

The conglomerate reportedly lost $288 million in the twelve months to September 2019 according to ASIC lodgements.

Lead by former The Good Guys chief executive, Michael Ford, Steinhoff Asia Pacific has since been rebranded to Greenlit Brands, and has continued to restructure its business with the included attempted offloading of Harris Scarfe.

The ACCC states Steinhoff Asia Pacific, trading as Freedom Furniture, paid penalties totalling $25,200 after being issued two infringement notices for allegedly misleading consumers about their consumer guarantee rights.

The conduct of concern relates only to the Freedom Furniture brand.

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