‘Tis The Season to Check Those Stocking Stuffers - 96five Family Radio

‘Tis The Season to Check Those Stocking Stuffers

The Office of Fair Trading is urging parents to be alert to unsafe toys when shopping for those special gifts this year.

By 96five Monday 13 Dec 2021NewsReading Time: 4 minutes

Main Image: Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman and Office of Fair Trading Manager of Consumer Product Safety Adrian Roudenko with some of the banned toys (supplied).

As the rush begins for parents and carers to fill their children’s Santa sacks, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is urging them to be alert to unsafe toys when shopping for those special gifts this year.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman said as part of OFT’s Operation Safe Christmas campaign Fair Trading officers have been out and about across Queensland checking that thousands of toys comply with mandatory safety standards and are not banned.

“Operation Safe Christmas 2021 has seen officers visit 119 Queensland stores and pop-up shops, checking more than 7,330 products,” Minister Fentiman said.

“On the whole, retailers and importers performed well this year, with a relatively small number of unsafe toys removed from shelves, which shows retailers are aware of their obligations around Australian safety standards.”

The Attorney General said officers had removed a squishy spider yo yo water ball and toy drum set from sale due to small parts, strangulation and choking hazards. A further four plush toys and two foam puzzles were also taken off shelves by officers for testing.

Toys with small parts or button batteries can be dangerous for young children.

“With the increase in online shopping this year, shoppers should be mindful when purchasing products from overseas – there is always a chance they don’t meet Australian safety standards,” she said.

“Do your research to make sure the toy is not banned or recalled in Australia.  It can pay to stick to reputable brands and reliable local sellers rather than chasing the cheapest deal.”

The Attorney-General said there are a number of dangers that parents should be on the look out for including toys or products with small parts, small high powered magnets and button batteries.

“If swallowed, a button battery can become stuck in a child’s throat and result in catastrophic injuries and even death” she said.

“The batteries need to be in secure child resistant battery compartments and avoid poor quality products which may release the batteries if broken or dropped.

“It’s not only toys that contain button batteries, they can be found in a broad range of household products including scales, calculators, cameras and greeting cards.

“Consumers should also avoid small high-powered magnets, which are banned from sale in Australia as they pose serious health risks if swallowed.”

The six S’s of toy safety:

  • Size – the smaller the child, the bigger the toy should be. Parts smaller than a ping pong ball could choke a child under three years.
  • Shape – be wary of products that could be easily swallowed and have sharp points or edges.
  • Surface – small children will place objects in their mouths so make sure that all materials and finishes are non-toxic.
  • Strings – anything over 30cm long may pose a strangulation hazard for a small child and should be removed.
  • Supervision – nothing replaces close supervision by parents and carers.
  • Secure battery compartments – make sure that battery covers are secure and small children can’t access them.

The Attorney-General said during this time of year, it’s so important Queenslanders understand their rights to a refund, repair or replacement, including returning that unwanted gift.

“We know Christmas is a time for giving, but it’s also the time for returning,” she said.

“Consumers are covered by a number of consumer guarantees under Australian Consumer Law, but shoppers should take Santa’s advice and check their list twice when it comes to purchasing products and services this Christmas.

“Refunds aren’t always an automatic right if you or your loved one wants an exchange because you changed your mind, bought the wrong size or chose the wrong colour.”

Under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), products and services must be of acceptable quality, fit for a specific purpose, match any sample or demonstration model, have no undisclosed debts or hidden charges and match the description given to you by the business or manufacturer.

Understanding your consumer rights:

  • Faulty goods – consumers are entitled to a refund, repair or replacement. What you are entitled to depends on whether the issue is a major or minor fault.
  • Refunds and exchanges – in most cases, a business cannot place fees or conditions on a refund or exchange, this includes restocking fees and returning a product in its original packaging.
  • Signs stating ‘No refunds on sale items’ – these are unlawful because they imply it’s not possible to get a refund under any circumstances.
  • Gift cards must come with a minimum three-year expiry period.

The OFT have launched a social media campaign featuring a series of story-themed scenarios to remind shoppers of their consumer rights in the lead up to Christmas.

“We want every Queenslander to enjoy their Christmas and most importantly stay safe,” the Attorney-General said.

For more information visit the Fair Trading website.