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Consumer Protection has sounded a warning for retailers to ensure they are complying with mandatory button battery safety laws or face penalties, after a number of inspections in Albany uncovered non-compliant products for sale.
In February 2023, Consumer Protection’s product safety and automotive officers undertook separate inspections across Albany to see whether retailers and motor vehicle repairers and dealers were doing the right thing by consumers in the region.
During the product safety inspections, officers identified 15 items powered by button batteries that were wrongly labelled and failed to display the correct warnings to consumers.
Under new rules that became mandatory last year, warnings must be clearly displayed on all products that contain button batteries, including advice to seek medical assistance if the batteries are swallowed. Any toys or other products that are powered by button batteries must have a secure battery cover – usually a screw that is not easily removed.
Button batteries can cause serious injury if they are swallowed or inserted into an ear or nose by a child. In the worst cases, they can even kill a child.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Trish Blake said the results were disappointing given the danger button batteries posed to young children and warned retailers they risked fines for failing to comply with the laws.
“There’s simply no excuse for retailers to be carrying non-compliant stock, given the button battery information and mandatory standards have been in effect since 22 June 2022,” Ms Blake said.
“Given button batteries are an enforcement priority for Consumer Protection, our officers will continue checking retailers around WA to ensure that the laws are being upheld.
“In the meantime, retailers should check their shelves for products that may be old stock, or risk facing infringement notices of $1,320 for individuals or $6,600 for companies. We can also consider commencing court action seeking penalties and other orders.”
During the separate automotive inspections, officers visited 18 motor vehicle dealerships and 20 repairers in the Albany area to check the businesses were licenced and complying with the laws that govern their industries.
Most dealerships were fully compliant, although a few were not properly displaying their licence numbers and certificates at their premises or on advertising material. The officers also inspected 100 vehicles, which all passed the test for being roadworthy.
Most vehicle repairers were not displaying their licence number on advertising material and at their workshops, but this was easily remedied. One repairer was found to be operating without a valid business licence, and Consumer Protection is working with the repairer to rectify the issue.
“The inspections show most car dealers and repairers in Albany are doing the right thing, and the minor issues were easily resolved,” said Ms Blake.
“We remind dealers and repairers they must display their certificates at their premises and include their licence number on all advertising, including social media, so people know they are dealing with licenced operators.”
While in the area, the team visited 19 fuel retailers to check they were meeting FuelWatch requirements. All were found to be following the rules.
More information on dealing with motor vehicle dealers and repairers is available on the Consumer Protection website where complaints can be lodged online.
Non-compliant button batteries, or the products containing them, can be reported to Consumer Protection at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 30 40 54.
Media Contact: Jasmine Sidhu, (08) 6552 9233 / 0423 846 397 / email@example.com