Facing the music: Bargains are Dimmeys' business but a legal question mark hangs over the safety of some of its products. Photo: Justin McManus
CONSUMER authorities allege Dimmeys' poor track record of selling unsafe goods should bar it from selling dozens of types of household items, including hot water bottles, bunk beds, cosmetics, fitness gear and children's nightwear.
In a Federal Court case brought against the iconic Melbourne discount store, Consumer Affairs Victoria is also seeking fines against owner Doug Zappelli and Dimmeys supplier Starite Distributors. Mr Zappelli owns both Dimmeys and Starite. If the court case is successful, it could see Dimmeys, Mr Zappelli and Starite banned for six years from selling many of the items that are normally found in its stores, because they fall under categories deemed ''especially hazardous'' by safety authorities and require extra warnings and higher standards.
Dimmeys' legal compliance officer, Ken Hampson, said the company was ''taken aback by the draconian orders sought in relation to the extensive prohibition on goods that Dimmeys Pty Ltd would be able to sell''.
''Dimmeys Stores has fully co-operated with Consumer Affairs during the course of its investigations and will continue to work with it in order to bring about a speedy and satisfactory resolution of the proceedings in the best interests of the public and Dimmeys,'' he said.
Dimmeys operates 45 stores around Australia.
Consumer Affairs also alleges the two companies and Mr Zappelli breached Australian Consumer Law by selling four items that were hazardous or were not sold with necessary warning labels, according to documents lodged with the Federal Court in Victoria. These included padded swimwear, baby bath toys, cosmetics and basketball rings.
Consumer Affairs declined to comment before the matter is heard in January.
However, a letter to Mr Zappelli notes the director of Consumer Affairs Victoria took into consideration four previous court cases against Dimmeys for unsafe or incorrectly labelled products.
Consumer Affairs has had two other wholesalers banned from selling goods listed as having ''mandatory standards'' by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
In 2011, Dimmeys was ordered to pay $400,000 and set up a compliance program after the commission took action against it for selling children's nightwear that was labelled incorrectly. During the case it emerged that Dimmeys was in a ''precarious'' financial position and was set to lose $1 million in 2010-11.
However, it receives financial support from Starite and other entities and Justice Michelle Gordon decided it was capable of paying the fine.