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Amazon put on notice to comply with Australian unfair contract terms legislation

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer has been reminded of its obligation to comply with Australian unfair contract terms legislation ahead of its imminent arrival in Australia.

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell said analysis of the Amazon Marketplace contract terms in the United States suggested they would have to be changed in Australia to comply with federal legislation.

Amazon’s United States terms and conditions reserve the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, terminate rights to use Amazon services, remove or edit content, or cancel orders at its sole discretion.

“This may be considered unfair as action can be taken by one party, Amazon, but not the other party, the vendor, to terminate the contract,” she said.

“I’ve requested that Amazon review the terms and conditions in use for standard form contracts in its Australian operations to ensure they comply with the unfair contracts terms legislation.”

Ms Carnell said that while the pending arrival of Amazon Marketplace in Australia represented an opportunity for small businesses to compete online, it was also important to remind the company of its obligation to treat small businesses fairly in accordance with Australian law.

“Some businesses are concerned about the threat of competition while others are excited to embrace the opportunity that Amazon offers,” she said.

“For consumers the Amazon Marketplace promises to expand choice and put downward pressure on prices.

“I’m interested to see how Australian small businesses can accelerate sales and broaden their customer base though the Amazon platform.”

Changes to the Australian Consumer Law, effective from November 12, 2016, protect small business from unfair terms in standard-form contracts.

21 September 2017

Amazon reached out to Dynamic Business with the below comment

“We look forward to launching Amazon Marketplace in Australia and providing thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs with tools and services that help them to reach millions of customers and to expand their businesses both here and abroad. We will, of course, adhere to all local laws in relation to our agreements with Marketplace sellers.”

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Rebecca Thacker

Rebecca Thacker

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