WA Clothing Co to Pay Out Over Misleading Charity Bins
3 April 2014 at 9:14 am
A Western Australian company that profited from used-clothing bins by alleging to help poor African children has agreed to donate $100,000 to charity and make a public apology.
The operator of a network of clothing collection bins in Perth known as E’Co Australia Pty Ltd has agreed to make the donation to charity and issue a public apology after agreeing that they may have misled the public.
E’Co Australia and its Managing Director Mark Brian Keay have settled a Supreme Court legal action taken by the WA Commissioner for Consumer Protection.
“Between January and November 2011, the company had 300 clothing collection bins at 205 prominent locations around the Perth metropolitan area which displayed text and images which may have given the impression that the clothing donations would ultimately be given to poor children in Africa, and that the operator was itself a charity or Not for Profit organisation,” the Commission said.
In many cases, the “E’Co Kids” bins were alongside the collection bins of genuine registered charities.
“In reality, E’Co Australia was not a charity or Not for Profit organisation, but a commercial enterprise which sold the clothing to second-hand merchants in Africa for a profit and retained the proceeds,” the Commission said.
The company and its Managing Director have admitted that the conduct may have breached the Australian Consumer Law by making false and misleading representations.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll said it’s imperative that the public be given true and accurate information in order the make informed choices about using disposal services provided by operators of such collection bins.
“Whether the donations are in the form of money or clothing, the public has the right to know whether the collection bin is part of a business or a charity. Donors need to have confidence that their donations are benefiting the people or purpose that they believe are being supported,” Driscoll said.
“Anyone engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct to take advantage of the generosity and goodwill of the community for commercial gain, will risk legal action and potential damage to their reputations.”
The company has signed an enforceable undertaking which involves paying $100,000 in monthly instalments over 18 months, with the funds being donated to appropriate charities at the discretion of the Commissioner.
The company has also agreed to publish a prominent newspaper advertisement apologising for any potentially deceptive conduct.