Oscar Wylee Taken to Court Over Misleading Donation Claims
Australian eyewear chain Oscar Wylee has been sued by the ACCC for misleading and deceptive conduct. Read more about it here.
Popular eyewear company Oscar Wylee as come under fire for falsely representing its charitable donations. The ACCC’s claim in the Federal Court alleges that Oscar Wylee misled consumers by making false claims about their donations. This comes at a time where many businesses have started to use philanthropy as a promotional tool. It’s one thing for businesses to market themselves as being progressive and socially conscious. But if businesses don’t do the things they claim to – this quickly becomes illegal.
What the ACCC is alleging
The ACCC alleges that Oscar Wylee engaged in misleading conduct by claiming to donate glasses to ‘those in need’. However, many of these donations never happened. Of the 320,000 pairs of glasses purchased, only 3,000 were donated. Widely advertised statements included claims such as ‘Buying a pair today? As soon as you do, we’ll donate a pair to someone in need’ and ‘Buy a pair, give a pair’. As the ACCC states ‘“We are concerned that consumers may have chosen Oscar Wylee over other eyewear companies because they believed their purchase would result in Oscar Wylee providing glasses to people in need.“
Further, Oscar Wylee is accused of misrepresenting their relationship with a Cambodian charity. Oscar Wylee claimed to have a working partnership with Rose Charities in Cambodia, but the extent of their relationship with Rose Charities only went so far as a one-off donation.
Misleading and deceptive conduct
Section 18 of the Australian Consumer Law states that it’s illegal for businesses to engage in activities that:
- Mislead or deceive customers
- Are likely to mislead or deceive customers
Businesses which engage in this type of conduct can face serious financial penalties. In this case, Oscar Wylee may be liable to pay a hefty fine in addition to an injunction, declaration and corrective publication order.
Oscar Wylee’s charitable ambitions may have started with good intentions, but this case should serve as a warning for businesses which promote their philanthropic ventures. As the ACCC puts it “Businesses must ensure that if they make claims about their charitable donations, affiliations or partnerships, they are true and can be substantiated.” Further, as consumers become more conscious of the businesses they buy from, businesses need to ensure they market themselves honestly. If you have questions about promoting your business, it may be wise to contact a competition lawyer.
Jackie is the Content Manager at Lawpath and manages the content team. She has a Law/Arts (Politics) degree from Macquarie University and is a solicitor in NSW. She's interested in how technology can help shape the future legal landscape.