On Friday, Justice John Middleton rejected the ACCC’s claims that LG misled customers by forcing them to pay for repairs, namely with TVs.
The Federal Court proceedings, lasting two years, saw the watch-dog present various examples where customers paid LG for repairs, despite the fact they may have been entitled to a replacement or refund under Australian Consumer Law.
Justice Middleton said that on each occasion where LG received a request, the brand made an offer which was accepted:
“There is no allegation in this proceeding of bad faith, deliberate falsehood going to ultimate liability, or other unconscionable conduct”
“Unless there is placed upon LG some additional obligation to disclose the existence of the (ACL), which may or may not have provided a remedy which (the customer) may have wanted to pursue, I cannot conclude the conduct of LG was in contravention of the ACL”.
Claims of misleading information about the manufacturer’s warranty on LG’s website was also rejected. Justice Middleton states LG held no obligation to inform consumers of their overall legal rights, noting anyone perusing the website would have “obviously” grasped the information was about LG’s warranty policy.
When queried by Channel News of their plans to prevent such an occurrence happening again, LG Australia’s General Manager of Marketing, Angus Jones, remarked the events had increased confidence in their compliance:
“LG has implemented and will continue to have a robust compliance program… The judgement today gives us confidence that the compliance program we have in place works, and is in line with Australian Consumer Law”.
Mr Jones states LG ensures its compliance program is “effective” by employing methods as “online and face to face training, compliance policies, systems and continuous monitoring”.
Regarding the possibility of some customer goodwill being lost amidst court proceedings, Mr Jones affirmed the contrary – noting a focus on continually refining customer insight data as part of its commercial success:
“[LG’s] home entertainment and television offering is ranked number two in Australia and we are market leaders in the OLED category. Part of [our] success is because we’re continuously improving our models based on customer insights”
“We’re committed to reviewing and refining our products regularly”
Mr Jones remarked LG was not phased by the span of the proceedings – first commencing in 2015 – considering it a “fairly standard timeline”.
Whilst the ACCC retains the right to appeal the Federal Court’s decision, Chairwoman Delia Rickard states it is “carefully considering the judgment”.