QLD: Following online safety


The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is ramping up its scrutiny of online traders and marketplaces as part of an ongoing operation to ensure compliance with mandatory product safety standards.

The operation is targeting mainly Australian online traders to establish that products being imported into and sold in Queensland comply with Australian safety standards.

Fair Trading product safety inspectors will be conducting internet sweeps of websites to identify unsafe products and take necessary action against suppliers and importers.

Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said the increased use of online shopping by Queensland consumers meant extra steps had to be taken with compliance efforts to weed out dodgy traders who continue to sell substandard goods.

“This is a marketplace where digital pop-up shops offering inferior goods can pose a real danger to unsuspecting consumers and we need to be innovative in our approach as to how we deal with those issues,” Mr Bauer said.

“Most online businesses take safety very seriously and ensure their products comply with Australian safety standards, but for those who don’t, our product safety inspectors are there to investigate.

“Inspectors will identify products for sale online, and if necessary purchase them to allow a safety inspection to be carried out.

“If products are found to be unsafe, enforcement action will be taken against the supplier.

“All businesses have an obligation to ensure the products they sell are safe, and online businesses are no different.

“If things do go wrong and an unsafe product is sold, the supplier is responsible for the costs of the recall, which provides a good incentive for businesses to get it right.”

However, consumers also need to play their part and think ‘safety first’ when buying online. Consumers should follow these tips:

  • Pay securely and make sure you're on a certified and trusted website
  • Know the business - only buy from websites that are well known, trusted and have contact details
  • Know the product - confirm the product is legal and any warranties or guarantees offered are valid
  • Check the contract - read and understand the terms and conditions, refund policy, delivery details and any associated costs
  • Online auction sites - check if a site offers a dispute resolution process for buyers and sellers
  • Remember that it may be difficult to get refunds from overseas websites that are outside the jurisdiction of Australian consumer protection agencies
  • Be wary of very cheap high end products- they may be counterfeit or unsafe
  • Be extra careful about buying electrical products from overseas websites – they may not meet the required standards for Australia.

Consumers should contact the OFT if they believe any product for sale could be unsafe, or doesn’t comply with safety standards.

Businesses can find information on toy safety standards and the latest mandatory standards on this website.

A guide for online sellers is also available on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s website.

For more information on product safety, or to report any products suspected of being unsafe, visit the OFT website at www.qld.gov.au/fairtading or call 13 QGOV (13 74 68).

Contact details

General enquiries: 13 QGOV (13 74 68)

Media contact: 07 3247 5968 or 07 3247 5965