Four Harvey Norman franchisees have received penalty fines totalling $86,000 over misleading or false claims they told customers seeking warranty repairs.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) launched legal action against 10 stores in the past 18 months, beginning with the Gordon Superstore, over a number of misrepresentations made by sales staff or store managers in conversations with customers.
They included telling consumers the store didn’t have provide a “choice of remedy” if a product was bought more than three months ago and that they had to pay a postage and handling fee before a product could be returned from the manufacturer.
In a series of decisions handed down by the Federal Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court since December, nine franchisees received penalties totalling $234,000.
The latest judgements include a $25,000 penalty against the Gordon Superstore in NSW and $26,000 for a store in Oxley, Queensland. Two now-defunct stores in Western Australian received combined penalties of $35,000.
The surviving stores were also ordered to display in-store corrective notices and implement a consumer law compliance program.
The other stores penalised last year were in Moonah, Sal and Hoppers Crossing in Victoria, Launceston, Tasmania and Campbelltown, NSW.
One case, against the proprietors of a store in Bundall, Queensland, remains outstanding, with a decision expected later this year.
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