Consumer Watchdog Launches Legal Action Against Woolworths, Alleging It Knowingly Sold Unsafe Products

ACCC chairman Rod Sims

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has launched Federal Court action against Woolworths alleging the supermarket giant sold 3 unsafe Homebrand products and continued to do so even after it was warned there were problems.

The three Woolworths Homebrand products are the Big W Abode 3L Stainless Steel Deep Fryer, Woolworths Select Drain Cleaner 1-litre and Homebrand Safety Matches (10 boxes per pack). All three have been subsequently recalled by Woolworths. Anyone who still has the products can return them for a refund.

The ACCC is prosecuting the company alleging that not only that they were misrepresented when sold as safe, but also that Woolworths continued to offer them for sale after being made aware the products may have caused serious injury and continued to make false or misleading representations that they were safe.

The consumer watchdog also alleges Woolworths failed to file mandatory reports, as required by Australian Consumer Law, once it become aware of the problems.

Two more products are also part of the action with the ACCC alleging that Woolworths made false or misleading representations about the weight capacity of the Woolworths Home Collection Padded Flop Chair and Masters Home Improvement Folding Stepping Stool, as these products did not withstand the maximum weight load stated on their packaging.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said it was important for companies to have strong quality assurance programs as they look to reduce costs by directly sourcing home brand products from overseas manufacturers.

“All suppliers have an obligation to ensure that any product defects identified are dealt with swiftly to prevent harm to consumers. This includes ensuring that any serious injury or illness associated with a product is reported promptly and that recall action is taken where appropriate,” he said.

The matter will be heard in Sydney on November 4.

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