More than 15,000 potentially unsafe products were delisted by online marketplaces signed up to the ACCC’s Australian Product Safety Pledge last financial year, with 98 per cent of regulator-initiated take down requests actioned within 2 days.
Pledge signatories also used artificial intelligence, image recognition and automated scanning to prevent hundreds of thousands of unsafe products from being listed for sale in the first place.
“We are pleased to see that pledge signatories continue to use innovative techniques to detect and remove unsafe products from their platforms and prevent them being listed at all,” ACCC Deputy Chair Catriona Lowe said.
“We are encouraged to see signatories taking active steps to create a safer shopping experience for Australian consumers.”
“We urge other online marketplaces to put product safety first by signing up to the pledge,” Ms Lowe said.
The pledge is a voluntary initiative that commits signatories, currently AliExpress, Amazon Australia, Catch.com.au, eBay Australia and MyDeal.com.au, to actively improve product safety online well beyond the current legal requirements and report annually to the ACCC on their performance.
The second annual report, released today, details how signatories performed against 12 product safety commitments and shows that innovative use of technology, combined with education and communication measures promoted seller compliance.
“Educating sellers about unsafe or recalled products and using automated systems to detect and block unsafe products before an item is listed helps keep unsafe products from ending up online,” Ms Lowe said.
“While platforms quickly removed unsafe products after we contacted them, we would like to see fewer unsafe and non-compliant products being listed in the first place.”
“If you’re selling goods online, it’s your responsibility to check the products are safe and comply with Australian product safety laws,” Ms Lowe said.
“Consumers need to be aware that banned, recalled, non-compliant and unsafe products continue to be available for sale online.”
A 2021 international online sweep by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) inspected 1196 banned and recalled products and found that 1044 products remained available to purchase online.
“Consider product safety when shopping online and try to read seller and product reviews about the product you’re purchasing.” Ms Lowe said.
Consumers are also encouraged to visit the Product Safety Australia website for tips about shopping safely online and information on mandatory safety requirements and recalled products.
The Australian Product Safety Pledge is modelled on a similar successful initiative in the European Union, the EU pledge.
The Australian pledge was launched in November 2020, following years of engagement with the four original signatories (AliExpress, Amazon Australia, Catch.com.au and eBay Australia) on improving product safety. MyDeal.com.au signed up to the pledge in April 2021.
Pledge signatories commit to 12 product safety related actions and to reporting annually on their performance. By signing up to the pledge, businesses are acknowledging the importance of product safety and recognise that implementing preventative and corrective measures help create safer outcomes for Australian consumers.
The ACCC supports signatories on their efforts to comply with the pledge by maintaining and updating the Product Safety Australia website, facilitating regular meetings with signatories and sharing information on emerging product safety issues.
Adopting the pledge does not replace the need to ensure overall compliance with the Competition and Consumer Act, including the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) or other relevant legislation. It does not prevent the ACCC or other regulatory authorities from taking action against signatories for breaches of the legislation.
Online businesses facilitating marketplace services are encouraged to visit the pledge website for more information.