According to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), Mosaic Brands Limited, which owns Noni B, Katies, Millers, Rivers, Rockmans, BeMe, Crossroad and Autograph, has paid penalties totaling $630,000 over misleading advertising of hand sanitiser and masks.
It is the largest specialty fashion group in the country.
The penalties come after Mosaic Brands admitted that it breached Australian Consumer Law when it promoted pandemic-related ‘Health Essential Products’.
The ACCC issues five infringement notices to the company over allegedly misleading or false advertising of hand sanitisers and face masks between March and June of last year.
According to the ACCC, the infringements related to claims in advertising across numerous Mosaic Brands which claimed that:
“Air Clean hand sanitiser sold on the NoniB website contained 70 per cent alcohol, when a sample tested by the ACCC was found to contain 17 per cent alcohol. Miaoyue hand sanitiser sold by Millers contained 75 per cent alcohol, when a sample tested by the ACCC was found to contain 58 per cent alcohol.”
Australian health authorities recommend that hand sanitiser has an alcohol concentration of at least 60 per cent.
The infringements also included: “Velcare-branded hand sanitiser products sold on its websites were ‘WHO-approved’ when they were not; KN95 Kids Safety Face Masks sold on its websites were ‘CE/FDA certified’, when they were not, and KN 95 Adult Face Masks were ‘non-refundable’, when consumers have a statutory right to a refund under the consumer guarantee remedies.”
They were promoted as ‘Health Essentials’ as both state and federal governments were grappling with the early stages of the pandemic, including introducing COVID-19 restrictions.
It was also a time of “intense public concern” – as put by the ACCC – about supplies of masks and sanitiser.
Mosaic Brands sold tens of thousands of those products across their sites, which were branded with language like: ‘stock up now before it’s gone’, ‘remain healthy’ and ‘be prepared’.
ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said, “businesses must never mislead their customers about the certification, quality or properties of their products, but we were particularly concerned about the representations by Mosaic Brands because the statements which Mosaic Brands has admitted were false or misleading related to certain protective health properties at the time of a global pandemic.”
Mosaic Brands has also signed a court-enforceable undertaking – which admitted that their actions contravened Australian Consumer Law – to refund customers under a redress program.
They will implement a three-year compliance program, and properly substantiate their claims about hand sanitiser and face-masks, including using independent product testing.
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