With Black Friday and Christmas around the corner, it’s important to put product safety first when shopping online.
The ACCC is co-leading this year’s OECD Global Awareness Campaign on Online Product Safety. The campaign launches worldwide during International Consumer Product Safety Week 14-17 November 2022.
OECD Global Awareness Campaign
The campaign aligns with the ACCC’s 2022-23 Product Safety Priority to strengthen online product safety. By working with international regulators, we aim to harmonise global efforts to reduce product safety risks.
As part of this campaign we are urging consumers, sellers and online marketplaces to check that products bought and sold online are safe.
The campaign aims to:
- empower consumers to make safe product purchasing decisions when shopping online
- improve business understanding of requirements for selling safe products online. This includes communicating relevant safety information to consumers and selling across borders
The campaign will provide:
- tips for consumers and sellers on how to avoid risk when buying and selling online
- guidance for online sellers and marketplaces on their responsibilities and best practice when selling online
2021 Consumer Product Safety Online Sweep
In October 2021, the OECD Working Party on Consumer Product Safety (WPCPS) ran a Consumer Product Safety Online Sweep.
The Sweep was run in 21 jurisdictions and inspected 4,299 products. It found that:
- out of 1,196 banned or recalled products 87% were still available for purchase
- out of 1,410 products inspected for labelling and warnings 31% did not have adequate product labelling or safety warnings.
Unsafe online products pose a serious risk to consumers, including physical injury, financial harm, and even death.
Online sales growth
Online shopping has become more popular than ever. The following factors have made it easier to shop online:
- access to a wider range of products
- competitive prices
- growing use of mobile and other connected devices
- impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Risks of shopping online
Despite this popularity there are still risks consumers need to be aware of when shopping online.
Buying online makes it impossible for shoppers to physically examine products, making it hard to work out how safe a product is. Shoppers are reliant on the pictures and information provided, which may be incomplete.
By shopping online consumers can also access a wider variety of sellers. However, this can include access to sellers that may not follow Australian laws and safety requirements. Consumers may not know if they are purchasing products subject to product safety bans, standards and recalls.
See our safety tips for consumers to help avoid these risks. Also see our guidance for online sellers and marketplaces on their responsibilities and recommended best practices when selling online.
Put product safety first: Being informed when buying online is the best defence against harm from unsafe products
Before purchase – stop, check and ask:
- Know who you’re buying from – check out the seller’s history, ratings, reviews and policies.
- Is it prohibited or banned from sale? If it is, don’t buy it.
- Has it been recalled? Check www.productsafety.gov.au for Australian product recalls and visit the OECD GlobalRecalls portal for international recalls.
- Check if it needs to meet Australian mandatory safety standards.
- Check the information on the listing and ask the seller if you’re unsure whether it’s safe – if they can’t reassure you, don’t buy it.
- Report products you think are unsafe.
- Use the ACCC’s guide to shopping online safely.
After purchase – stop, check & inspect:
- Does it have safety warnings or instructions? If so, read them carefully.
- If you think it’s unsafe, report it to the ACCC, the seller and the online marketplace.
- Subscribe to recall updates and, if you can, register your product to be notified of any product issues.
- Always follow advice about recalled products.
Put product safety first: No matter where you sell from, to, or through, make it safe to buy online
- Check local and global recalls regularly.
- Know what’s banned or subject to mandatory requirements, in every country you sell to.
- Include product safety information, warnings, directions for use, age recommendations and labels in listings.
- Swiftly identify and remove unsafe products from sale.
- Keep consumers informed – contact them when product safety concerns arise.
- Be clear with consumers – if a product is identified as unsafe, advise them of the risk and action they should take.
- Be contactable and responsive to consumers and authorities.
- See our guidance for online sellers at: Selling online.
Tips for online marketplaces
Put product safety first: Build trust by removing unsafe products from your marketplace. Reach out to consumers who have bought dangerous products on your marketplace
- Take measures to confirm the identify of, and vet, sellers before they list.
- Make seller identity and contact information visible.
- Consider implementing unique seller and product identifiers.
- Make it easy for consumers to report unsafe products to you and the seller.
- Help consumers make safe decisions
- share product safety information effectively
- encourage sellers to include images, clear product identification, compliance information and warnings in listings.
- Promote product safety compliance on your platform. Work with product safety regulators to identify and respond to emerging risks and persistent problems.
- Educate sellers on their legal obligations in the jurisdictions they sell to.
- Use technology to prevent, detect and remove unsafe products, especially those already flagged on public databases such as the OECD GlobalRecalls portal.
- Make the list of recalled products that were sold on your platform easy to find and check local and global recalls regularly.
- Ensure that consumers who purchased a dangerous product receive a prompt and clear message to stop using it. Send out this message directly to the consumer and take the necessary corrective action (including a product recall) if the seller is failing to do so.
- Strengthen your product safety initiatives by taking the Australian Product Safety Pledge – see our guidance for signatories for details on what’s involved.
Help spread the word
Use the hashtag #PutProductSafetyFirst and follow ACCC Product Safety on Twitter and Facebook.
Recalled products in Australia
Guidance for online selling platforms
2022-23 ACCC Product Safety Priorities