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NSW Country of Origin - Labels on Products?

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by Solo, 13 June 2015.

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  1. Solo

    Solo Member

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    Hi all,

    Short question: do companies in Australia (NSW in particular) have to have country of origin information in their products? The ACCC states "A business may make any origin claim provided that it is not false or misleading", but this doesn't say that they have to actually make the claim on a product just that if they do it mustn't be misleading.

    The company I'm thinking of has provided me with a product which has no country of origin mark on it, but the company itself has a country's name as part of it. I want to keep them anonymous, but my example is "Ernst Schmidt, Germany". The issue is all contact info on their website is Australian, and their products are entirely without country of origin marks. In my view, they are deliberately trying to mislead people into thinking their products come from Germany when they do not.

    Please help!

    Also thanks to Sophea who replied on another thread which wouldn't let me reply to her - thanks Sophea!
     
  2. Ivy

    Ivy Well-Known Member

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    Hi Solo,

    What type of product are you referring to? Food or something else?
     
  3. Solo

    Solo Member

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    Hello Ivy

    The product was an expensive entertainment item, and I am keeping it vague because I do not want to name the company at this point. I have checked the SA Consumer and Business Affairs website since I posted and that seems very clear that not only must a mark on the product not be misleading, but that any promotional activity by the company also cannot mislead.

    In my opinion, deliberately not having a mark of origin on your products, but having a country's name very prominent in your trading name is very misleading (so long as, of course, you are manufacturing your products in a different country to the one in your company name). The company in question also does not have an ABN on their website so I am unable to unearth their physical location. Must they have an ABN displayed? I cannot find them by their name via a name look-up on the ABN website either. They are making sure they are very hard to track down.

    I have emailed them three times on their website which states how much they care about customer feedback and welcome enquiries, but all of my emails have been totally ignored. Seems dodgy to me.
     
  4. AnnaLJ

    AnnaLJ Well-Known Member

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    Hi Solo

    There are a few different things to look at here.

    Firstly, I believe there are different industry standards regarding 'country of origin' labelling that vary depending on the type of product. Generally speaking though, non-food items are required to have their country of origin marked on them in order for them to pass through customs in Australia. However, they aren't always required to display the country of origin at the time they are sold (within Australia) to the end consumer.

    For example, a business may import shoes into Australia and, in order to do so, will have a sticker affixed to them that states 'Made in China'. They may then remove this sticker before displaying the items for sale in stores. This is why you may have seen items sold in stores with no details at all about where they are made.

    However, while there may not be a legal requirement to display country of origin on an item being sold in Australia, this doesn't mean the seller can mislead you in any way about the origin of the product. This includes, as you have correctly pointed out, any promotional activity or wording used to describe a product or brand. Whether this business has misled you or not is a very subjective question, which will come down to the specific words used and the way in which they are used. I would recommend speaking to consumer affairs specifically in your state to get advice on whether the words used have been misleading, including any conversations or emails from the seller prior to your purchasing. From there, they might recommend that you make a claim against the seller.

    With regards to the ABN, have you tried looking up the entity name here: ABN Lookup Also, they are legally required to include their ABN and ACN on their invoice to you. Have you checked the invoice?

    Best of luck and please keep us posted with how you go,

    Anna
     

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