Oscar Wylee has been fined A$3.5 million by the Federal Court for misleading consumers about the extent of its charitable activities, breaching Australian consumer law.
The Australian optometry and eyewear chain admitted that between January 2014 and December 2018 it made promotional statements promising to donate a pair of glasses for each pair purchased. The false marketing claims included phrases like, ‘For every pair purchased, a pair is donated to someone in need’ and ‘Buy a pair, give a pair’.
But over nearly five years, Oscar Wylee sold 328,010 pairs of glasses but donated only 3,181 frames to charity, without lenses; the equivalent of about one set of frames for each 100 pairs of glasses sold.
“Oscar Wylee promoted its charitable activities as a core reason why consumers should buy Oscar Wylee glasses, but its claims were false and were made in circumstances where consumers could not easily verify these claims for themselves,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
Oscar Wylee also admitted to making false or misleading representations that it was closely affiliated with Rose Charities, funding sustainable eyecare in Cambodia when its association with Rose Charities during this period consisted of a single donation of A$2,000 and 100 frames in 2014. No further donations or support were provided to the charity after this time, despite Oscar Wylee continuing to claim an affiliation with Rose Charities until late 2018.
“Oscar Wylee has taken advantage of the charitable nature and goodwill of consumers and its behaviour risks diminishing consumer confidence to support other businesses that genuinely engage in philanthropic activities,” Rickard said.
Oscar Wylee admitted liability and made joint submissions with the ACCC to the Federal Court consenting to the orders sought.