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Australian eyewear company Oscar Wylee penalised for making false charitable claims

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Key facts:

In September 2020, Australian eyewear retailer Oscar Wylee was ordered by the Australian Federal Court to pay AU$3.5 million in penalties for making misleading statements about its charitable donations and affiliations.

Oscar Wylee admitted that, between January 2014 and December 2018, it had made statements in adverts and promotional merchandise that for each pair of glasses that a customer purchased, the company donated a pair to someone in need. However, in almost five years, Oscar Wylee had in fact sold 328,010 pairs of glasses but only donated 3,181 frames to charity, without lenses. This was about one set of frames for every 100 pairs of glasses sold.

The company also admitted making false or misleading statements to consumers about its association with a charitable organisation (the Rose Charities) during the same period. In fact, the company’s association with this organisation was limited and extended to a single donation in 2014.

The Federal Court found (and Oscar Wylee admitted) that there had been breaches of the Australian Consumer Law. Oscar Wylee was ordered to pay total penalties of AU$3.5 million and banned from making statements about charitable donations or affiliations for six years. It was also ordered to maintain an ACL compliance programme for three years.

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