National eyewear chain Oscar Wylee has been taken to court by the consumer watchdog, which claims the business failed to make thousands of charitable donations it had committed to.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission announced on Friday it had instituted legal proceedings in the Federal Court over the company’s ‘Buy 1 Pair, Give 1 Pair’ program, which promised to donate one pair of glasses to a person in need for each pair purchased by customers.
Featured prominently on the company’s website and social media channels, the company spruiked the program to shoppers alongside photos of disadvantaged children and the elderly.
“Buying a pair today? As soon as you do, we’ll donate a pair to someone in need,” the marketing slogans read.
However, the ACCC claims that between January 2014 and December 2018 Oscar Wylee donated just 3,000 pairs of glasses to underprivileged communities, despite selling over 320,000 pairs during that time.
ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said the regulator alleges the business had donated “less than 1 per cent of the glasses it said it would”. Those donations, it claims, were made in an “ad hoc way” and in a method inconsistent with the company’s marketing.
These alleged false or misleading claims presented Oscar Wylee as engaged in significant charitable activity, and exploited consumers’ desire to support charitable causes.ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard
Oscar Wylee’s relationship with independent charities group Rose Charities has also been drawn into question. The ACCC claims that until December 2018, the company said it had ‘partnered’ with the group to build eye care programs in Cambodia and fund eye surgeon studies.
Instead, the regulator claims the company’s entire involvement with Rose Charities was limited to a single $2000 donation and 100 pairs of frames, given in early 2014. No further donations were made, despite the company continuing to claim it had.
“These alleged false or misleading claims presented Oscar Wylee as engaged in significant charitable activity, and exploited consumers’ desire to support charitable causes,” Ms Rickard said.
“We are concerned that consumers may have chosen Oscar Wylee over other eyewear companies because they believed their purchase would result in Oscar Wylee providing glasses to people in need and supporting a sustainable eye care program in Cambodia.”
Oscar Wylee was founded in 2012 by Michael Lim and John Teoh, the son of reclusive telecommunications billionaire David Teoh. Mr Lim left the company in 2015, and Mr Teoh brought his brother Jack on board to help run it.
The company runs 52 stores around the country and has a large online presence.
Oscar Wylee has been approached for comment.
Source: Thanks smh.com