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Oscar Wylee going to federal court over charity claims

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has started federal court proceedings against eyewear retailer Oscar Wylee for allegedly misleading customers about its charitable affiliations and donations.

According to the ACCC, Oscar Wylee made false statements between January 2014 and December 2018 that it would donate a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair of glasses sold.

The ACCC said this was not the case, with the eyewear retailer only donating around 3000 pairs of glasses despite selling over 320,000 frames during that period. 

Oscar Wylee also said it had partnered with Rose Charities to build sustainable eye care programs in Cambodia, though this was limited to a single $2000 donation and 100 frames donated in early 2014 according to the ACCC. 

Representatives of Rose Charities denied they had any form of current or ongoing relationship with Oscar Wylee to Insight News earlier this year. 

An example of Oscar Wylee’s advertising. Source: ACCC.

“These alleged false or misleading claims represented Oscar Wylee as engaged in a significant charitable activity, and exploited consumers’ desire to support charitable causes,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said. 

“We are concerned that consumers may have chosen Oscar Wylee over other eyewear companies because they believed their purchase would result in Oscar Wylee providing glasses to people in need and supporting a sustainable eye care program in Cambodia.

“Businesses must ensure that if they make claims about their charitable donations, affiliations or partnerships, they are true and can be substantiated.”

The alleged claims were removed from the Oscar Wylee website in early 2019, according to Insight News.

Oscar Wylee to defend claims

According to Oscar Wylee, it will vigorously defend the legal action launched by the ACCC.

“We utterly reject the allegations made by the ACCC, which do not reflect the range and scale of the community and charitable contributions made by Oscar Wylee,” the business told Inside Retail.

“Since it’s founding in 2012, Oscar Wylee has proudly undertaken a range of programs in line with an ongoing commitment to corporate social responsibility.”

The business said it has donated more than 350,000 pairs of glasses to charity organisations, that monetary donations for the period in question total $130,865, and that it has always acted with good intentions and takes corporate and social responsibility seriously.

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