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Amazon Told To Change Its Rules To Meet Aus Legislation

Global behemoth, Amazon, has been told by an Australian Ombudsman that it needs to change its contract for small businesses on its platform, to ensure compliance with Australian legislation.

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, has written to Amazon to ensure the US-based giant complies with Australia’s legislation around unfair contract terms.

Amazon’s American terms and conditions see the company reserving rights to a variety of areas, inclusive of; reserving the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, terminate rights to use its services, cancel orders at its discretion, and remove or edit content.

Ms Carnell states the US terms and conditions may be considered unfair:

“This may be considered unfair as action can be taken by one party, Amazon, but not the other party, the vendor, to terminate the contract”.

Carnell has called upon Amazon to review their T&Cs to ensure their compliance with local laws:

“I’ve requested that Amazon review the terms and conditions in use for standard form contracts in its Australian operations to ensure they comply with the unfair contracts terms legislation”.

Carnell states that an analysis of Amazon Marketplace’s contract affirms some changes are required to meet Australian federal legislation.

Australian Consumer Law was changed from November 2016 to protect small businesses from unfair terms contained within standard form contracts.

Carnell states a “standard-form contract is one that has been prepared by one party and where the other party has little or no opportunity to negotiate the terms”. By consequence, she states an “unfair term is one that causes a significant imbalance in the parties’ rights and obligations and causes detriment to a small business if it were applied or relied upon”.

Believing that Amazon’s arrival will provide an opportunity for many small businesses to expand their reach and compete online, Carnell has reminded the company that under Australian law it has an obligation to treat small businesses fairly:

“Some businesses are concerned about the threat of competition while others are excited to embrace the opportunity that Amazon offers”.

“For consumers the Amazon Marketplace promises to expand choice and put downward pressure on prices. I’m interested to see how Australian small businesses can accelerate sales and broaden their customer base though the Amazon platform”.

The news follows increasing reports stating that Amazon’s imminent arrival to Australian shores may be closer than some individuals think. Recent actions include the establishment of a fulfilment centre in Victoria, coupled with the hiring of more staff.

Rocco Braeuniger has been appointed Country Manager. Mr Braeuniger was formerly the Director of Consumables for Amazon Germany.

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