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A Perth-based online business that took money from consumers for Jeep parts and accessories and either failed to supply them or took a very long, unreasonable amount of time, has been fined $16,000 in a case brought by the Commissioner for Consumer Protection.
James Bartlett trading as Aftermarket Jeep Parts Australia via the website aftermarketjeep.com.au pleaded guilty to wrongly accepting payment from eight consumers in various States, between December 2015 and August 2016, in breach of the Australian Consumer Law. In addition to the $16,000 fine handed down at the Perth Magistrates Court on 24 September 2019, an order was made for costs of $3,083 to be paid. No compensation orders were necessary because the consumers who are owed money have all been repaid.
“Under the Australian Consumer Law goods or services must be supplied within a reasonable time and traders must not accept payments and then fail to deliver,” Commissioner for Consumer Protection Penny Lipscombe said.
“In this case consumers who had ordered items such roof racks or bumpers waited months to more than a year. They were given various excuses about a lack of stock or a shipping company going into liquidation but they didn’t get their money back. In one case, by the time a customer got the product they ordered, they no longer even owned a Jeep!”
Bartlett claimed he’d been unaware of failures to supply goods or provide refunds, blaming a computer system failure. During sentencing Magistrate Flynn commented that Mr Bartlett having no system backup for a business computer was asking for trouble. Magistrate Flynn also said the business had been structured in a way that was bound to cause disappointment eventually, leading to criminal conduct in these circumstances.
The penalty would likely have been higher if not for the fact six victims have been repaid as at 20 September 2019 along with interest for the delay in repayment. The business has improved its practices – it no longer has an option to pre-order goods in ‘pre-production’, maintains 95% of its products in stock, gives clear timeframes for delivery and now operates with a computer backup system.
Ms Lipscombe said businesses can brush up on their Australian Consumer Law obligations by reviewing various publications and online tools for business. “Head to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission website www.accc.gov.au or in Western Australia check out the Consumer Protection website www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au.”
Background: Consumer Protection issued a warning about Aftermarket Jeep Parks / James Bartlett in January 2017.
Media Contact: Alina Cavanagh, (08) 6552 9471 / 0423 846 397/ firstname.lastname@example.org