Website Risks

    Australia is built upon the structure of small business. However, with the age of technology with internet users in full swing, the so called shop front is now an online profile.

    Technology is changing the business landscape significantly in Australia. There are more empty shops standing in the street, employees are losing jobs, people need to reskill on the use of technology to enable them to gain work and so on.

    Then on the other hand the consumer is the winner in this dynamic changing market, with increased services online and competition that makes pricing even cheaper for the product that they want to purchase.

    The facts surrounding the transition from analog, we may say, to the digital environment for businesses comes with serious risks, that both the online vendor and consumer (purchaser) need to become aware of.

    The first of these digital concerns is disclosure, is the vendor, let’s say the online grocery store, disclosing all the relevant facts about their product, such as where it comes from, how is it stored in a safe environment, how will that product be chosen by the vendor and delivered to you once ordered. These may sound very simple tasks administratively for the grocery shop to display online, but will it be accurate information about their product and service, will full disclosure be provided by the grocer, or will they accidentally mislead the digital consumer into a false belief that the product is safe for human consumption, when in fact, there are risks for the consumer with that product. Has the vendor disclosed those risks properly and brought the same clearly to the attention of the consumer!

    The second digital concern is does the consumer understand what they are buying, or are they under an assumption that what they select, by clicking, “SUBMIT”, is an item that will be similar, or may be same, or may be of less quality, then what they viewed online.

    Everyday in some form the consumer is faced with a type of contract, whether it is buying a coffee, or even a train ticket, there is always an offer and acceptance occurring which forms the basis of the contract between seller and buyer.

    In the digital environment this contract arrangement does not change, only the method of delivery. But it is the method of delivery that is important for both the vendor, in the example the grocery shop, and the consumer, the buyer.

    Contract in a digital environment is called “Wrap Agreements”. Why they are called wrap, is the contract itself is one that is viewed in a scrolling motion, just like paper wrapping around a ball. However, this is where the technical issues come for both the vendor, and the purchaser. The wrap agreement needs to be clearly demonstrated on the website, where the consumer can easily review the terms and conditions of this contract. The vendor needs to have the proper design layout and coding in their website to ensure that there are sufficient processes to confirm that the purchaser has actually reviewed the contract, which can indicate that they have understood the wrap agreement before clicking, “SUBMIT”.

    The airline industry represents the best example of the use and methods of wrap agreements. They are presented clearly to the consumer, and the consumer needs to acknowledge that they have read and understood the wrap agreements before they submit their payment for the purchase.

    Big industry in Australia has technically mastered the wrap agreement and the requirements for the consumer to be made totally aware of their contract obligations once they have clicked, “SUBMIT”.

    Though small industry in Australia, are especially falling behind with this technology process of providing proper disclosure on their websites, and ensuring that the wrap agreements that are agreed to by the consumer provide the proper details under the Australian regulations.

    However, what about the websites that are not hosted in Australia, and neither are the businesses that run those websites? Well this poses a real risk and challenge for every consumer in the digital environment of Australia to ensure what they are buying is real and safe!

    If the business is not registered in Australia, then consumer protections will be limited or none. Whereas if the business is registered in Australia the consumer protections will be significant. But if the business is registered in Australia, and their website is hosted in another country, example Singapore, will the consumer protections still apply? This is a very tricky area in regards to consumer protection with wrap agreements, and anytime a consumer is considering clicking that “SUBMIT” button to purchase those goods, it is best to know where that company is located, and if that company has a registered office in Australia. Then most important from the consumer’s point, they should read the wrap agreement before they click “SUBMIT!

    The term “Buyer Beware” is true to its meaning, ‘Beware’!




    ビジネスのアナログ環境からデジタル環境への転換とも言える状況に関連して、オンライン事業者ならびに顧客 (購入者) が認知すべき重大なリスクをはらんでいる。