The Commission enforces consumer information standards that are set by regulation under the Fair Trading Act which relate to:
- care labelling
- clothing and footwear country of origin
- fibre content labelling
- used motor vehicles
- water efficiency labelling.
This fact sheet does not cover consumer information standards for motor vehicles or the Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme. For more information about these standards please visit the consumer information standards section.
Why are there consumer information standards?
Consumer information standards set by regulation ensure consumers are provided with information that helps them make informed decisions when purchasing and caring for a product.
What are consumer information standards?
Consumer information regulations set consumer information standards that products must comply with. They describe in detail the information that needs to be provided to consumers for certain products. The standards also detail how this information needs to be presented on the products. The requirements given in each consumer information standard are different depending on the type of product. Failure to comply with those standards breaches the Fair Trading Act and is illegal.
Consumer information regulations currently in force set consumer information standards. The regulations set consumer information standards by identifying all, or parts, of an official standard that must be complied with.
The regulations may also set consumer information standards by specifying the type of information that must be disclosed, how that information must be obtained and verified before being disclosed, and the form and manner in which that information must be disclosed.
Currently, the regulations for care labelling and fibre content labelling identify separate official standards as consumer information standards.
The consumer information standards about clothing and footwear country of origin, used motor vehicles and water efficiency are set out in the regulations themselves.
Any person supplying, offering to supply or advertising the supply of any products which a consumer information standard applies to needs to follow these rules.
We use the term “consumer information standard” in this guideline to refer to the official information standard, or parts of the official information standard identified by regulations, or the information specified in the regulations as a consumer information standard.
Any type of clothing, household textile or furnishing must have a label that gives the consumer information about how to care for that type of product.
Informing a consumer about caring for clothing, household textiles and furnishing in the correct way means the fabric is less likely to be damaged or destroyed. These products are also more likely to last for a reasonable period of time.
Clothing and footwear country of origin labelling
All new clothing and footwear must have a label that states where the product was made. This informs consumers of where an item of clothing or footwear is produced when deciding whether to buy the item.
If the product is packaged or displayed in a way that prevents a consumer from reading the label, the information must be given on the packaging or on a separate, removable ticket attached to the product. The label must be in English and printed clearly. Detailed requirements relating to the label are contained in the standard.
You are responsible for making sure that the clothing and footwear you supply has a label with this information. The manufacturer is likely to supply products with a label saying where the product is made, but you must ensure that the labels comply with the standard. If you supply goods without the required labels, you will breach the consumer information standard.
Ultimately it is your responsibility to understand the requirements of the standard and to ensure the labels on the products you supply comply with the law.
Fibre content labelling
Consumers need to have accurate information about the fibre content of the clothing or textiles they buy to make sure they can correctly use and care for these products.
The standard sets out two ways to label most textile products:
- listing the names of the fibres and their percentages from the highest to the lowest percentage (eg 80% cotton, 20% wool); or
- listing the names of the fibres in order of the amount contained in the fabric (eg cotton, wool).
Any textile product that has more than one fibre cannot be called “100%” or “pure.” Although it is likely the manufacturer will supply goods that have fibre content labels, you are responsible for making sure that the products you supply meet the standard.
The standard also includes requirements for the position of the label, the names of fibres that can be used and the circumstances in which labels must be permanent or may be temporary. It also includes a detailed list of the types of textiles included and excluded.
All labels must be clearly printed and written in English.
What happens if I do not comply with the consumer information standards?
It is illegal under the Fair Trading Act to supply goods that do not meet the labelling standards specified in the regulations. The courts can fine any individual who breaches consumer information standards up to $10,000, and a business up to $30,000.
Alternatively, the Commerce Commission may decide to fine you $1000 by issuing an infringement notice if you do not comply with a consumer information standard.
False or misleading representations
Information provided on any label is a representation. If you supply products with labels giving information that is not true or is misleading to consumers, you risk breaking the law. The Courts can fine any person that is found guilty of making a false or misleading representation up to $200,000 under the Fair Trading Act. Businesses found guilty of breaching the Fair Trading Act can be fined up to $600,000.
Tips for traders
✔ Know what products are covered by consumer information standards that are set by regulations under the Fair Trading Act.
✔ Understand how consumer information standards apply to products you sell or supply and satisfy yourself that your product labelling complies.
✔ Be aware of labelling requirements for products you sell and speak to your supplier if any labels or information is missing.
✔ Ask for proof from the supplier that the information provided on any labels is true and accurate.
✘ Learn about your obligations under the Fair Trading Act. DO NOT supply or sell any product if you are unsure if it meets the consumer information standard.