An Australian company offering online coupons has been ordered to pay a $600,000 fine for misleading customers.
The Federal Court has imposed the fine on the website Spreets over deals offered between June 2011 and April 2012.
The court found the Melbourne-based firm had made false or misleading claims about the price of some deals, how readily customers could redeem vouchers, and their rights to a refund.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which brought the court action, said protecting consumers online remains a priority.
“The court’s decision is a further reminder for online traders that the Australian Consumer Law applies to them, including customer guarantees,” ACCC commissioner Sarah Court said.
“All online businesses, including those offering daily deals, must ensure that representations made on their websites are clear and accurate, particularly in relation to price and any restrictions on a deal being offered.”
The Spreets website is still operating, but no longer offers deals in its own right. Instead, the site directs people to discounts offered by third parties.
The online discounts industry only emerged five years ago, and has since provided a steady stream of customer complaints for the ACCC.
The sites generally offer a heavy discount on a product or service, provided the customer pre-pays through the company and abides by often onerous restrictions on when and how the deal can be redeemed.
In December 2013 another site, Scoopon, was ordered to pay $1 million for its treatment of consumers and businesses.
Last year another firm, LivingSocial, agreed to make changes to its contracts and website in response to ACCC concerns.