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Online stores still charging GST on feminine products, ACCC warns

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Some online retailers have failed to remove GST from feminine hygiene products despite a government decision to remove the tax from the beginning of this year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has said today.

While most retailers have removed the 10 per cent general services tax from the products and passed along the savings to consumers, some smaller and international online retailers have not, the ACCC said in its report on the post-GST pricing of feminine hygiene products.

“The vast majority of retailers sampled were well prepared for the removal of the GST, and reduced retail prices of menstrual products by the expected 9.1 per cent,” ACCC acting chair Delia Rickard said.

“There was no legal requirement for businesses to reduce their prices, but post 1 January 2019 and the GST removal, most consumers would have expected the tax ‘saving’ to result in lower prices.”

However, some online stores have failed to remove the GST from the feminine products, leaving them overpriced.

These tend to be smaller online stores or international stores, with the ACCC investigating the pricing.

The ACCC also said some retailers had been presenting the reduction in price as a sale.

“Some businesses used generic ‘was/now’ price tickets to display the price reductions, while some online businesses used ‘strikethrough’ pricing,” the watchdog said in its report.

“There is no prescribed method for displaying these reductions—or in fact, any requirement to state the reduction.

“However, if the price change is displayed, businesses should be careful not to mislead customers if the method used could be mistaken for a short-term special.”

Suggesting the new prices were a sale or discount can be problematic as consumers may be unable to determine if the products were reduced in price due to the sale, or due to the removal of GST, the ACCC said.

The Australian government decided to remove the 10 per cent levy in October last year, following an 18-year-campaign to ditch the tax considered sexist by women’s and human’s rights groups and advocates.

The new pricing came into effect on 1 January 2019. 

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