ACCC targets sunglass retailers for non-compliance with mandatory standard in retail blitz

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A retail blitz on two major shopping complexes has targeted sunglasses that fail to comply with the prescribed mandatory product safety standard.*

As a result, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has accepted three court enforceable undertakings from three major retailers, a number of products have been recalled and others re-labelled correctly.

In November 2007, 500 stores in two large metropolitan shopping centre complexes were surveyed to gauge compliance by retailers, wholesalers and importers of sunglasses/fashion spectacles.  The entire complexes were surveyed as increasing numbers of stores are stocking such products as fashion accessories.

A total of 115 stores supplied these products, with only 21 supplying sunglasses which were fully compliant with the standard.

The survey showed non-compliance ranging from:

  • 31 retailers which supplied sunglasses/fashion spectacles without any labelling
  • 10 which supplied product that did not contain the additional driving warning required of fashion spectacles supplied with category 1 lenses
  • 55 stores which had product that raised potential deficiencies in meeting supplier identity requirements, and
  • 14 retailers which had product with either obscured labelling or labelling with incorrect lens category descriptions.

Following three of the more serious incidents, Fossil Retail Stores (Australia) Pty Ltd, Paris Miki Australia Pty Limited and J.L. Footwear Pty Ltd (licensee of the Nine West store brand) have provided court-enforceable undertakings to the ACCC.  Additionally, Fossil and Nine West have conducted product safety recalls. The companies responded quickly to the ACCC's concerns, commissioning performance testing of other spectacles and, in the case of failures, volunteered this detail to the ACCC and implemented recalls in March and April 2008.

After ACCC contact, Fossil had previously initiated a recall in January 2008 for 18 models of category 1 lens fashion spectacles which were supplied without the required driving warning.  The subsequent April recall by Fossil covered its entire current range of sunglasses and fashion spectacles, supplied between November 2006 and February 2008. The recall was precautionary following the other test failures and the likely delay in the receipt of all commissioned test results.

Paris Miki is a specialist eyewear retailer and the ACCC was concerned about its non-compliance as it should have been fully conversant with the standard.

Fossil, Paris Miki and Nine West will:

  • ensure goods supplied that are subject to a mandatory safety and/or information standard prescribed under the Act comply with the standard
  • institute procedures to ensure display and sales stock are appropriately labelled, and
  • implement a trade practices law compliance program.

Copies of the undertakings will be available on the public register section of the ACCC's website.

"The survey is not just about addressing performance failures by traders," ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, said today. "It will go a significant way to improving general compliance given the number of retailers, wholesalers and importers contacted and the subsequent discussion within the industry.

"The ACCC will build on this with other initiatives to increase future compliance, especially for the next summer season.

"The blitz model of survey to identify compliance issues will also be used in other areas of product safety to identify the scope and range of concerns as part of the product safety monitoring work the ACCC conducts on an on-going basis.

"This sort of survey tends to pick up national suppliers often found in shopping centres and produces a flow-on affect back through the supply chain." 

Industry associations, including the Sunglass Association of Australia and the Optical Distributors & Manufacturers Association of Australia, have been working with the ACCC to increase awareness amongst their members and the industry generally of the standard's requirements and to promote the benefits of improved compliance procedures by suppliers. 

Initiatives have included a recent industry seminar held in Sydney for sunglass suppliers and continuing supplier and consumer education campaigns.

Contact details

Media inquiries

Mr Graeme Samuel, Chairman, (03) 9290 1812 or 0408 335 555
Ms Lin Enright, Media, (02) 6243 1108 or 0414 613 520

Release # MR 113/08

General inquiries

Infocentre 1300 302 502
 

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