Castel takes Toshiba to court over defective products

By Chris Nicholls

MELBOURNE: Castel Electronics has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Toshiba Singapore, claiming damages for problematic PVRs and rear projection televisions.

Castel, which distributed Toshiba until early 2007, claimed to have lost $15.5 million trying to fix numerous problems with the J35 personal video recorder, C26 set top box and rear projection televisions. The company is also claiming another $18.8 million in lost profits and staff re-allocation expenses.

Castel claimed the J35 in particular had extensive problems, to the point where it called it “inherently defective”. Castel said 54 different faults were identified and the product was eventually withdrawn from sale.

According to the court documents obtained by Current.com.au, the problems first started in February 2005, when Castel found the J35 suffered from what it said were “serious defects” requiring the recall of all models and replacement of the product’s software.

However, it appears this did not solve the problem, with “numerous claims by consumers” from May 2005 onward that the updated model was still defective.

What followed, according to Castel, were seven different software updates and one upgrade to hardware, including one to fix an inability to receive 720p HDTV signals.

Further problems took the number of product faults to the aforementioned 54, Castel claimed.

Toshiba Singapore allegedly told Castel during and after June 2005 that despite the problems, the J35 remained “a superior product to competitors’ actual and proposed products”.

However, in a later admission, a Toshiba Singapore representative allegedly told Castel that the J35 was only an “experimental” or pilot product.

In further claims, Castel said a batch of high definition rear projection TVs also suffered numerous faults, including bulbs that failed in a third of the claimed time, software issues, picture greening, picture centring issues and a loss of picture every 10 minutes if used with a J35 and HDMI connection.

Finally, a C26 set top box also suffered numerous problems, Castel claimed.  

According to the claim, Castel had to allocate 50 per cent of staff time to dealing with retailers and consumer complaints, hence the $18.8 million part of the claim.

Toshiba Singapore has reportedly withdrawn an application to stop proceedings in Australian Federal Court and have the case arbitrated in Japan.

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