ACCC asks Dimplex to correct environmentally friendly claims

By Craig Zammit

SYDNEY: Hagemeyer Brands Australia has offered court enforceable undertakings to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) over ‘environmentally friendly’ claims made about air conditioners distributed locally under the Dimplex brand.

Following several complaints, the ACCC advised Hagemeyer Appliances that its advertisements contained false and misleading representations concerning the air conditioners which were in breach of the consumer protection provisions of the Trade Practices Act 1974.

Between September 2005 and June 2006, Dimplex air conditioners were advertised through both the Dimplex and Hagemeyer websites as well as in a brochure titled ‘Come Home to Cool’. In the advertisements, Dimplex claimed that the air conditioners were ‘environmentally friendly’ when, in fact, the air conditioners contained R407C – a potent greenhouse gas.

While less harmful to the environment than other hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants such as R22 gas, R407C is not classified as ‘environmentally friendly’.

“The ACCC considers misleading environmental claims to be a serious issue, particularly as consumers value environmental benefits when making their purchasing choices,” said ACCC Chairman, Graeme Samuel in a statement.

“This also reminds the air conditioning industry as a whole that misleading environmental claims will not be tolerated. Businesses must take great care that their advertising claims about any environmental benefits must be able to be substantiated.”

Hagemeyer Appliances has since acknowledged that R407C gas is not appropriately described as ‘environmentally friendly’ and accordingly has agreed to cease making this claim in relation to its affected air conditioners. Hagemeyer has also agreed to implement corrective measures to ensure consumers receive no incorrect impressions regarding R407C.

“The ACCC acknowledges that Hagemeyer Appliances responded immediately and constructively to addressing the ACCC’s concerns,” he said.

As a result, Hagemeyer Appliances will now write to all customers who received the Come Home to Cool brochure to explain the effect of its conduct, publish corrective notices in Appliance Retailer, and publish a corrective statement on the Hagemeyer and Dimplex websites.

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