ACCC takes action against Thermomix
The ACCC has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Thermomix, alleging it contravened several provisions of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
The ACCC alleges that Thermomix misled customers about their consumer guarantee rights, failed to comply with mandatory reporting requirements for injuries arising from the use of the appliances, made false representations and engaged in misleading conduct regarding the safety of the TM31 model. It’s also alleged Thermomix made false and misleading statements about its 2014 recall.
A number of Thermomix users suffered burns caused by the failure of the TM31 model – specifically its sealing ring, which was recalled in 2014 due to the possibility that users could be scalded if the Thermomix was switched to the lid-open position at high speed. Consumer group, Choice, alleged that one customer required treatment by a hospital burns unit at least a year before the product was listed on the national recalls website.
In relation to consumer guarantee rights, the ACCC alleges that Thermomix represented to certain consumers that the ACL remedies to which they were entitled could only be obtained by signing agreements with non-disclosure terms and other terms that prevented them from making disparaging comments about the brand. The ACCC also alleges that Thermomix represented to other consumers that it would not provide refunds or replacements as a remedy at any time.
“Consumers who have purchased a faulty product have rights under the Australian Consumer Law to remedies which businesses cannot restrict, alter, or remove, and this includes getting a repair or replacement for the product, or a refund,” ACCC acting chair, Delia Rickard said.
In relation to the mandatory reporting requirements, the ACCC alleges that Thermomix failed to notify the Commonwealth minister within two days of becoming aware that a person had suffered a serious injury associated with the use, or foreseeable misuse, of a Thermomix appliance. The ACCC alleges that this occurred in 14 instances because Thermomix failed to give notice of these serious injury incidents within the two day notification period.
“The law requires that suppliers must act to notify the ACCC as soon as they become aware of any person who has suffered a serious injury associated with the goods they have supplied,” Rickard said.
In relation to the safety of the TM31 model, it is alleged that Thermomix made false representations and engaged in misleading conduct by representing to consumers that it was not aware of any safety issue with the TM31 by continuing to supply the product when it was aware of a safety issue that ultimately led to a recall action in October 2014.
“Suppliers must act swiftly to notify their customers as soon as they learn of a potential safety hazard with their products,” Rickard said.
The ACCC also alleges that in March 2016, Thermomix caused false or misleading statements to be made in the media about the nature of the October 2014 recall.
The ACCC is seeking declarations, pecuniary penalties, injunctions, corrective publication orders, compliance program orders and costs.