The ACCC has called on online shopping and group buying sites to lift their game after daily deals website LivingSocial admitted to breaking Australian Consumer Law over misleading pricing and refund terms.
The consumer and competition regulator took action against LivingSocial after alleging that the company had "engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct" relating to pricing of some of its deals, customers' refund rights and unfair contract terms that allowed the company to change its terms and conditions without telling consumers.
According to the ACCC, LivingSocial has "acknowledged that the representations may have contravened the Australian Consumer Law" and agreed to a number of court-enforceable undertakings on future operations
These include commitments to not mislead customers over prices and rights to refunds, to display prices with all additional fees included (except for delivery costs) and to only use pricing comparisons when they don't mislead customers about savings that can be made through its site.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the action should come as a warning to online businesses to deal fairly with their customers.
"Businesses selling to consumers online have the same obligations under the Australian Consumer Law as all other businesses, and consumer guarantees, including refund rights, apply when consumers purchase online," he said.
"Online businesses must ensure that they do not mislead consumers about their consumer guarantee rights, and that the price and any restrictions on a deal being offered are clearly and accurately stated."
As part of the court-enforceable undertaking, LivingSocial will be required to develop and implement a compliance program to ensure it continues to operate within consumer law.