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Buy a pair, give a pair claim costs $3.5m

  • September 21 2020
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Invest

Buy a pair, give a pair claim costs $3.5m

By Cameron Micallef
September 21 2020

Eyewear retailer Oscar Wylee has been ordered by the Federal Court to pay $3.5 million in penalties for misleading or deceptive conduct and making or misleading representations about its charitable donations and affiliations, according to an official statement.

Buy a pair give a pair claim

Buy a pair, give a pair claim costs $3.5m

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  • September 21 2020
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Eyewear retailer Oscar Wylee has been ordered by the Federal Court to pay $3.5 million in penalties for misleading or deceptive conduct and making or misleading representations about its charitable donations and affiliations, according to an official statement.

Buy a pair give a pair claim

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), between January 2014 and December 2018, Oscar Wylee suggested it would donate a pair of glasses to charity for every purchase.

However, the court heard that in almost five years, Oscar Wylee sold 328,010 pairs of glasses but donated only 3,181 frames to charity, without lenses, which is about one set of frames for each 100 pairs of glasses sold.

“Oscar Wylee promoted its charitable activities as a core reason why consumers should buy Oscar Wylee glasses, but its claims were false and were made in circumstances where consumers could not easily verify these claims for themselves,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.

Ms Rickard pointed out that consumers potentially bought glasses from the retailer due to it being socially responsible.

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“The misleading conduct also portrayed Oscar Wylee as a socially conscious company that made significant donations of glasses to people in need, which, because this was not true, unfairly differentiated it from other brands in the market.”

“At the same time, Oscar Wylee deprived disadvantaged people in need of the benefits it promised in its advertising,” Ms Rickard said.

The glasses retailer also claimed it had partnered with Rose Charities to help build a sustainable eye care program in Cambodia.

To date, the court heard that the Oscar Wylee association with Rose Charities during the period consisted of a single donation of $2,000 and 100 frames in 2014.

In her judgment, Justice Katzmann said: “Oscar Wylee stood to profit from inducing consumers to purchase its products and still does. 

“It built its reputation by engaging in the contravening conduct, appealing to socially conscious consumers who wanted to support charitable causes through their purchasing behaviour. Its conduct was a betrayal of that promise.”

Around 2013, the company also published a promotional video on its website and social media under the “I care for eyecare” slogan, which claimed that “Oscar Wylee helps out through a range of different ways. From the performance of eye tests, distribution of glasses, performance of cataracts surgeries, and training of eye doctors”.

The video showed scenes of poverty in Cambodia, Rose Charities’ eye clinic in Cambodia, and stated, “Every Oscar Wylee glasses purchase will help restore vision in developing regions”.

“Oscar Wylee has taken advantage of the charitable nature and goodwill of consumers and its behaviour risks diminishing consumer confidence to support other businesses that genuinely engage in philanthropic activities,” Ms Rickard said.

“This penalty should serve as a reminder for any company considering making false claims to its customers in its marketing material, whether online, by email, on video, on social media or in store.”

In addition to imposing penalties, the court also ordered Oscar Wylee to publish information online explaining its breaches of the ACL, and pay a contribution to the ACCC’s costs.

Oscar Wylee admitted liability and made joint submissions with the ACCC to the Federal Court consenting to the orders sought.

Buy a pair, give a pair claim costs $3.5m
Buy a pair give a pair claim
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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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