Homedics recalls massaging product after labelling mistake

By Sarah Falson

MELBOURNE: Homedics is recalling an undisclosed number of massaging hot water bottles because they don’t carry the appropriate labelling and required certification under a British Standard of compliance.

The rubber hot water bottles – WTR-BOT-AU – each powered by two AA-sized batteries and featuring a Terry cloth cover, were sold nationally through electrical retailers for RRP $29.95 from November 2006 to today.

According to Homedics Australia operations manager, Richard Stepon, the company failed to research properly the labelling standards with which its massaging hot water bottles must comply, and calls the situation “one of those strange quirks of fate".

“We have done the wrong thing and we have complied with a voluntary recall without question,” Stepon told Current.com.au

“When we researched the labelling guidelines, we missed the fact that [our product] must comply with the [BS 1970:2006] standard.”

According to Stepon, the Australian Standard commission doesn’t include a department that deals with labelling hot water bottles, so local manufacturers must comply with British rules. 

Stepon said that these British rules weren’t enforced until recently, with each Australian state signing incrementally over the last 12 months a statement to enforce the standards. According to Stepon, identifying different requirements for each state was a difficult task.

“When you bring in a hot water bottle and you add massaging features to it, which category is it? Which categories do you use for the standards? We looked at labelling rules in Australia but we didn’t look at Victoria specifically, which is where the British labelling statement had been signed,” he said.

Homedics will be placing advertisements in newspapers and online to inform customers who bought the affected product that they should return it to the place of purchase or directly to Homedics for a full refund.

“While we are prepared to pay for the postage of the unit as well as its price, we can’t say how many people will return a unit that is priced at only $29.95. Especially since people who use the hot water bottles for heat only won’t be using them until winter, they may not think it’s important enough to return it now,” said Stepon.

Stepon said he couldn’t reveal the number of Homedics massaging hot water bottles are affected, but said instead, “it was not an insignificant number.”

According to Stepon, most of the units were sold over the 2006 Christmas gifting season in November and December.

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