Lettuce isn’t the only thing harming customers at Woolworths, says the ACCC 192



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via Woolworths Moorabbin Junction

It’s been a horror week for our supermarkets after the lettuce recall, and now to top it off, Woolies has been fined millions for other harmful products and incidents.

The $3 million penalty comes after the supermarket chain was found to be selling faulty home-brand goods that injured customers and for failing to promptly alert authorities and issue recalls as required by law, reports SMH.

Justice James Edelman said the penalty needed to achieve deterrence and ensure Woolworths sold safe products and followed product recall and withdrawal procedures.

Woolworths’ was found responsible for an employee burning his eyes and a man hitting his head on a metal garage door and the concrete ground.

“As Woolworths described that conduct it involved misrepresentations about the characteristics of some of its products, refraining from withdrawing products within a reasonable time and refraining from recalling unsafe products within a reasonable time”, said Justice Edelman in his findings.

It was the ACCC who first took action on the misleading and potentially harmful products as far back as September 2014 – they alleged false or misleading representations about the safety of some home-brand products, including a drain cleaner with a faulty child-proof lid, a deep fryer with weak handles and self-igniting safety matches, by continuing to sell them after injury reports, over a three-year period.

“[Woolworths] cooperated with the ACCC, and agreed many of the facts,” Justice Edelman said. “[The penalty was reduced because of its] early admission of culpability and its co-operation with the ACCC.”

Rod Sims, chairman of the ACCC, believed the penalty was “entirely appropriate”.

Among the horror stories was an 11-month-old girl who managed to take off the child-proof lid on drain cleaner and “burned a hole” in her leg; a Woolworths employee suffered burns to his eyes, and a woman suffered serious burns when the handles snapped off a Woolworths deep fryer and hot oil splashed onto her body.

Court documents show that 124,000 people over seven months were exposed to the drain cleaner, which Woolworths admitted was the “most serious of the misleading conduct contraventions”.

Woolworths acknowledged its failures, said a spokesman for the company. “The issues were raised at the highest levels within the company and we have invested more than $20 million on an entirely new product lifecycle management system, implemented over two years, to ensure our products are the quality our customers expect,” he said.

“Woolworths takes product safety and quality extremely seriously. Australians buy millions of items from us every day and we know they rely on Woolworths to provide safe, high-quality products”.

Recall products:

  • Abode 3-litre stainless steel deep fryer with loose handles
  • Woolworths Select 1-litre drain cleaner with a faulty child-proof lid
  • 10-pack bundle of Safety Matches
  • Home Collection padded flop chair
  • Masters Home Improvement folding stepping stool

Woolworths has been ordered to pay $3.057 million plus costs for breaching the Australian Consumer Law.

Tell us: has this shocked you? Will you be shocking at Woolies again? Or is this the final straw?

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  1. wasnt woolies fault but was it.. they didnt pack the bloody stuff.

    11 REPLY
  2. And we want them to sell prescription drugs and become chemist !! I heard Coles and woollies will now be allowed to open chemist stores in their supermarkets !

    8 REPLY
    • No way will I be going to Woolies or any supermarket for prescriptions or any health products. I always buy from the Chemist, even health products. I do not frequent health food stores either.

    • I wished more people thought the same. So many lazy or people in a rush, want a one stop shopping store. They don’t realize they are destroying our butchers, green grocers & pharmacies, owned by Aussies trying to have a go! These small businesses are cheaper & great personal service.

    • In the UK most of the larger supermarkets have pharmacies within their stores. It is a safe, convenient environment where qualified pharmacists dispense both over the counter and prescribed medication.

    • I worked in Myres Melbourne back in the 60’s and they had a pharmacy in store back then so not a new idea. But in saying that don’t think they are needed in our supermarkets

    • As if your checkout chick will be dispensing medications – they will be manned by qualified Pharmacists.

    • Well said Joan Rowe its the consumer who is lazy just want to get everything in one store .I like my butcher ,fruit Vegi shop and chemist a chemist does not belong in a super market the government should not allow this to happen its stupid idea .

    • Yes Carol agree i support my local butcher cant stand prepacked meat .My green grocer and chemist .Once these are all gone it will be to late then .The super markets will have complete control .

  3. Like any organisation they have a duty of care to consumers and workers. The fact that they have known about these incidents and warnings were not publicised and goods not pulled mean they did not fulfil their duty has landed them in hot water! Lift your game Woolies.

    1 REPLY
    • I stopped shopping with Woolies about 4 years ago, and it looks like I’m about to pull the pin on Coles as well. I’m sick of bad food I have had delivered from the store where my groceries come from with everything from so called ( fresh fruit and veg- ROTTEN MEAT. Oh yes Coles make sure I get a refund, however my last order was my very LAST ORDER from them. I have requested my orders come from a different store however the tell me that’s not possible. My only choice is to shop somewhere else that they care about the quality of their food. NEVER AGAIN!

  4. I’ve watched the number of electrical power boards, chargers even house wiring that has been recalled and can’t help but wonder if quality control is a thing of the past. I follow the ACCC Product Safety Facebook page and there is rarely a day when there isn’t a recall of about four products from car components to toys due to safety concerns.

    10 REPLY
    • It’s not hard to see why these cheap products sell. We recently had to buy a new 15 amp power board, it was Aussie made and cost $140. The cheap imported 10 amp ones start at around $6

    • Well put. I think this mad rush for cheep cheep cheep has cost us in safety and higher risk. Every year we see more Xmas decos start fires because of risky manufacture and poor safety labelling Manufacturing doesnt belong to the brand companies these days and we are seeing more examples of where I think the retailers just don’t care about safety standards..just sell them. Until they are forced to recall them or put them on special to get rid of them. We even sell cars in Aust without an ANCAP rating. Just dumb. Destyari is right policy is being elbowed by big time commercialism

    • IT seems that any ‘deaths’ from imported products are not as important to our government as the profits of the importers.

    • Ok everyone get on the band wagon now and rip woolies apart destroy them they don’t care send them broke then we can all go shop at Coles who I am sure have just as many problems probably more than all the other what’s left supermarkets. It’s a huge world out there people get hurt it shouldn’t happen but does ask yourself why is a child opening draino in the first place. As far as any deaths caused from imported products go ,let’s not get imported products let’s buy all our companies back and build more companies and be totally self sufficient and live the life style we all want the best of the best and not whinge about how expensive it’s costing to buy everything I’m not condoning the miss gaps that have happened in any way. We should be glad that the watch dogs are picking up these errors. It seems to b me that if someone makes a mistake these days whether it be deliberate or unintentional they have to be hung drawn and quartered and banished from this earth never to be seen again. I seriously think someone out there is deliberately getting paid to dis woolworths maybe it’s Aldi maybe it’s Coles it just seems that Woolworths are the supermarket to be picked on at the moment someone’s probably getting paid big dollars in this world to try destroy them after all it an Everyman for himself society these days

      2 REPLY
      • Woolies bashing again. I also agree with the comment about how did a child get a bottle of drain cleaner in the first place. Faults are more likely to happen with cheap goods.

      • Woolies bashing again. I also agree with the comment about how did a child get a bottle of drain cleaner in the first place. Faults are more likely to happen with cheap goods.

    • Its made cheap brought cheap what do people expect quality lets be real .Why would you buy anything electrical from supermarket .Where is quality control gone .If its cheap thats what it means cheap and nasty .

    • Vicki Orr that may be the case but recently Apple recalled chargers. Some of the recalled items have been good brands not discount store lines. The problem for the consumer is determining what is expensive and nasty, what is expensive and worth it, what is good value and what is just cheap and nasty.

    • Its no mad rush for cheap stuff for some of us WE HAVE NO CHOICE we just can’t afford the more expensive Australian made.

    • Yes and in the process of your idiotic destruction u destroy the lives of those working there….good one. You think any chain is better fools they just havent got caught yet.

    • Christina Baines the trouble is so does a lot of the not so cheap branded items. The made in Australia item can have some of its components from China. I am never surprised by the poor quality of Chinese imports and the appalling safety standards. What gets me, is that our government agencies are so quick to buy their junk. I don’t know if you heard about the ambo’s uniforms that made some of the staff itch and at least one get a quite severe allergic reaction to the dye.

  5. you are joking i stopped shopping at woolies a year ago they are not the fresh food people any more

    2 REPLY
    • Shop at Woollies all the time. Never ever had problem with any food including fruit & veg. Also use Coles for their specials

      1 REPLY
      • Same here Dawn, no problems with quality, my only concern is finding non halal certified goods

  6. Yep….people need their jobs….as long as the managers are accountable for this (as in all industries they cause the problems) I wud hate to think ordinary workers lose out

  7. Actually we DON’T want them opening pharmacies…can u imagine sharing your intimate or otherwise conversation with the rest of the store???? Plus pharmacy is a specialised, long training involved career…who knows WHO the groups will employ for cheap rates! No way Jose!!

    5 REPLY
    • We have pharmacies in Countdown stores in NZ. I haven’t used them yet for scrpts etc but we are assured that only qualified pharmacists are employed and they do have small consulting rooms attached which appear to be soundproofed. Took note of this while it was being installed instore.

    • I’m in NZ too n own a pharmacy n have tried a supermarket pharmacy n was not impressed with the level of knowledge…maybe I’m biased but would you visit a doctor in a supermarket? ?

    • In the UK most of the larger supermarkets have had in-store pharmacies for many years.They are safe and convenient with qualified pharmacists. They are often still open when smaller pharmacies are closed. Say hello to the modern world!

    • I would think that the pharmacist would have to have the same qualifications as any other pharmacist. And as for giving sensitive info it’s not overly private in a normal pharmacy so don’t know what the fuss is about

  8. Yep……I wudn’t want ordinary workers to suffer….the sub-standard managers are to blame (as in most industries)….ground floor workers aren’t in anyway to attached to recalls I will shop at Woollies when n if the price suits me….pensioners choice!

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