Online shopping is growing rapidly and can bring many benefits such as wider choice, saving time, and potentially savings in costs as well.
When shopping online, it is important to be aware of product safety and your rights as a consumer.
Your rights online
All of your usual rights and obligations under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) apply when you shop with an Australian online business, including your right to a repair, replacement or refund.
When you buy something online you should expect goods to be safe and compliant with mandatory safety standards, bans and recalls.
Some online platforms have made a commitment to product safety for consumers shopping on their website by signing the Australian Product Safety Pledge.
Australian Product Safety Pledge
Online marketplaces that have signed up to the Australian Product Safety Pledge have committed to:
- check their website for unsafe and recalled goods and quickly remove any identified
- cooperate with Australian regulatory authorities in taking down unsafe products and processing information requests
- allow consumers to notify them of unsafe products on their websites and deal with it swiftly
- inform consumers and suppliers of unsafe or recalled products.
Top tips for safe online shopping
1. Check the list
You can check the list of safety standards and bans to find out if the product is regulated*
The ACCC’s Product Safety Australia website can help you make a safer online purchase by giving you the information you need to determine if your purchase meets Australian standards.
*Please note that some specific types of consumer goods such as electrical goods and medical devices are not regulated by the ACCC. Specific information on who regulates what and who to contact for specific products is available from the Product Safety Australia website.
2. Before you buy
Ask the supplier if the product complies with any mandatory safety requirements
The purpose of a mandatory standard is to make particular safety or information features on products compulsory for legal supply of the product into the Australian market. It is an offence to supply goods that do not comply with mandatory standards.
3. Check the goods have not been recalled
4. Know who you’re buying from
Check online ratings and reviews, which may indicate any safety issues other consumers have experienced, including being scammed. Check out the latest advice on Scamwatch.
5. Read safety warning and instructions
Take time to read safety warnings and instructions, including any minimum age markings. Contact the seller if you still have questions about safety. This also applies for after you receive the product, make sure to read and follow any further safety instructions carefully.
6. Speak up if you find a safety issue
You can report unsafe products to the ACCC and your local consumer protection agency.
7. Register your product
If possible, consider registering your product with the manufacturer so that you can be immediately contacted about recalls and other safety information.
Consumer product safety online
An ACCC report for Australian and overseas-based businesses that supply, or intend to supply, products to Australian consumers via the internet.
Date published: 20 March 2014