The Federal Court has sentenced the owner of an online electronics retailer to three months imprisonment after he misled customers about their refunds and warranty rights, and accepted payment for goods without supplying them.
Dhruv Chopra was the sole operator of Electronic Bazaar, which listed products such as notebooks and mobile phones from the likes of Apple, Acer, Asus, Dell, Sony, Toshiba and Samsung.
In May 2015, Chopra was fined $100,000 for misleading customers on their consumer rights. The ACCC said that Chopra made claims such as "consumers were not entitled to a refund, repair, or replacement for goods in various circumstances, such as where the goods were no longer under an express warranty, where the goods had been used, or were not in their original packaging, or unless a claim was made within a specified time period".
The court also placed injunctions to prevent Chopra from engaging in similar conduct for five years.
The ACCC filed proceedings against Chopra in November 2016 for contempt, alleging that he breached his court orders by making similar misleading claims through another online retailer, Dream Kart. He was found guilty in April.
Chopra was ordered to serve one month of his imprisonment sentence immediately. The remaining two months will be suspended if he complies with his original court orders not to make false or misleading representations about consumer rights and wrongfully accept payments for goods and failing to supply them within a reasonable time.
ACCC commissioner Sarah Court said that the Federal Court's decision to imprison Chopra reinforced the consequences of failing to comply with court orders.
“The ACCC regularly seeks court orders to prevent the same detrimental conduct from happening again and to protect consumers from future harm. The ACCC rigorously pursues compliance with these court orders by taking contempt action where we consider there has been a breach,” she said.
In judgement, Justice David O'Callaghan said he had no doubt Chopra's contempt was criminal in nature.
"They involved an attitude of defiance, a deliberate and contumacious determination to defy the Court and a direct intention to disobey the court’s order,” he said.