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Booktopia fined $6 million for misleading consumers

Pureplay books retailer Booktopia has been ordered by the Federal Court to pay $6 million in penalties for making “false or misleading representations” on its website.

Between January 10, 2020 and November 2, 2021, the retailer admitted that its online terms of business contained “misleading statements” which illustrated that “consumers were only entitled” to a refund, repair or replacement if they notified the business within two business days of receiving a faulty product.

About 19 customers were advised on customer service calls that the retailer “did not have an obligation” to a refund or replacement if they failed to notify the company within the stated period.

The terms of business also observed that customers were not entitled to a refund for digital products such as ebooks, for any reason.

In a statement, Booktopia said it removed the statements on November 3, 2021, acknowledging it was “not correct and consistent” with its obligations under the Australian Consumer Law.

Both Booktopia and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) made joint submissions in relation to the penalty and other relief in this matter.

ACCC commissioner Liza Carver said: “Consumers are entitled to return faulty products within a reasonable time and receive a refund, repair, or replacement, depending on the nature of the fault.”

The penalties will be paid in instalments over a five-year period while a notice acknowledging the contravention will be displayed on the website.

Booktopia chairman Peter George said the retailer is glad to put the issue behind it.

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