One of the many ugg boot retailers in Australia, Ozwear Connection (Ozwear), has paid $25,000 in penalties for having allegedly made false representations about the country of origin of its “Classic Ugg” footwear range. The products were made to look like they were made in Australia when, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), they were made in China.
The ACCC issued Ozwear two infringement notices for the alleged false representations.
“Ozwear’s conduct is unacceptable. Under the Australian Consumer Law, businesses are prohibited from making claims that create a false impression about products being made in Australia,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said, according to a media release on Oct. 24.
Ozwear is a wholesaler of footwear and accessories in Australia. Between January and April 2018, the company claimed on its website to be “100% Aussie owned.”
With respect to its “Classic Ugg” range, Ozwear claimed that the footwear was made using “the best materials available in Australia.”
Before May 2018, Ozwear had attached a green and gold tag in the shape of Australia, with the words “this exclusive premium label is uniquely [sic] Australian-owned brand for authentic Australian Ugg boots.”
“Country of origin representations can be a powerful marketing tool for businesses, as many consumers are willing to pay extra for Australian made products,” Keogh said.
“When false or misleading representations are made about a product being Australian made, consumers may end up paying more for no reason at all and businesses who are genuinely making their products in Australia lose out.
“Businesses are warned that making misleading claims or representations about a product’s country of origin will attract ACCC scrutiny and enforcement action,” he added.
Businesses taking country of origin claims can refer to the ACCC’s guidance which is published online, the ACCC said in its press release.
The ACCC can send an infringement notice when it believes a person has breached the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA) and the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). For a business to have paid the infringement notice does not mean it has admitted to having breached the CCA or ACL.