The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has successfully pursued legal action against Thermomix over a kitchen appliance that had known safety issues.
Penalties totalling more than $4.6 million were handed down by the Federal Court of Australia, with Thermomix's TM31 food mixer product ruled to have breached Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
The courts found the company had made false or misleading representations to consumers after it remained silent about potential risk of injuries to people who used the product.
From July 7 2014, Thermomix was aware that consumers could lift the TM31's lid before the bowl has settled, causing hot liquid or food to escape and splash the user. However, the firm continued to sell and promote the product until September 6 2014 and failed to warn people about the injury risk until September 23.
ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said the penalties should act as a reminder to other firms that consumer safety is not an issue to take lightly.
"By failing to act swiftly and alert consumers about the potential safety hazard with the TM31 appliance, Thermomix misled a number of consumers and placed their safety at risk," she explained.
But Thermomix's transgressions didn't end there. The company was also found to mislead consumers about their refund rights.
Certain people were told they were not allowed refunds or replacements for the TM31, or – if a refund was available – Thermomix implied consumers must sign non-disclosure agreements saying they would not criticise the company.
"When a consumer is entitled to a refund or replacement under the ACL, businesses cannot place conditions on that right to a refund or replacement and customers certainly shouldn't have to sign non-disclosure agreements," Ms Court added.
Thermomix could find itself at the centre of product liability claims in addition to the court penalties.
Confirmation that the firm breached the ACL means anyone injured as a result of using the TM31 could have a strong case for compensation. An experienced personal injury lawyer can examine your case and assess whether or not an organisation's negligence was the cause of any harm you may have suffered.
Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers are experts across a range of liability claims, so please get in touch with one of our no-win, no-fee lawyers today for a free consultation.