Decathlon fined £1.2m over incorrect warning labels

A sports megastore has been slapped with a big fine for failing to comply with Australian safety standards.
Decathlon was slapped with the £1.2m fine by Federal Court Justice John Nicholas.
// French-owned sporting retailer Decathlon has been fined for selling goods without proper safety warnings
// The pools were missing warnings such as “children have drowned in portable swimming pools”

The sports retailer Decathlon has been fined £1.2 million for selling portable pools and basketball hoops that fell short of Australian safety standards.

Between 2016 and 2019, the French sporting goods chain, which has stores in Sydney and Melbourne sold several models of basketball rings and pools that were missing safety labelling, consumer warnings or instructions required by the safety standards.

Basketball rings and backboards had a picture warning against “dunking” that was too small, and labels failed to warn customers the apparatuses should not be fixed to a brick wall.

At least four people have been killed after the structure supporting a basketball ring collapsed on top of them in the past 25 years.

In federal court proceedings, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission argued the company had recklessly disregarded the relevant standards and it had failed to adequately respond to the concerns raised by the federal watchdog on several occasions over 18 months.

In addition, warning labels on some portable pools did not include the mandatory wording: “Children have drowned in portable swimming pools. Ensure active adult supervision at all times.”

The company’s chief executive said an error in the chain’s global ordering system problem allowed the products to be distributed for Australian stores despite the system flagging them as non-compliant.

The judge took into account the products may have complied with European safety standards, but said it was necessary to send a message that products must meet Australian standards and failure to do so would attract a significant fine.

Justice Nicholas said he could not give “much weight” to the Decathlon chief executive’s view that a significant fine would cause “serious hardship” and potentially close down the Australian operation.

“It is important to send a message that non-compliance with mandatory safety standards would not be tolerated, especially in relation to products targeted to children,” he said.

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