The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued proceedings against P & N Pty Ltd and P & N NSW Pty Ltd (Euro Solar) and Worldwide Energy and Manufacturing Pty Ltd (Australian Solar Panel) over allegedly false or misleading claims about the country of origin of the solar panels they supply. The ACCC has also taken action against Mr Nikunjkumar Patel for being knowingly concerned in, or a party to, the alleged conduct.
The ACCC alleges that since November 2012, Euro Solar and Australian Solar Panel have made representations online, in newspapers and on television that they manufacture or supply solar panels that are made in Australia, when those solar panels are in fact manufactured in China.
It is further alleged that written testimonials that appeared on australiansolarpanel.com.au, from January 2013 to February 2013, and video testimonials that appeared on YouTube and eurosolar.com.au, from May 2012 to February 2013, were not made by genuine customers of Australian Solar Panel or Euro Solar.
“The ACCC is currently prioritising work in the areas of credence claims and fake testimonials, as outlined in the Compliance and Enforcement Policy,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“Consumers should be able to rely on the accuracy of labels, especially when they are prepared to pay a premium for products made in Australia. Misleading credence claims can have a significant impact on the competitive process and hurt the local economy.”
“Australian consumers are increasingly relying on online consumer reviews to inform their purchasing decisions. Fake testimonials can mislead consumers as a great deal of trust is often placed on these reviews. They also harm competitors who do the right thing,” Mr Sims said.
The ACCC is seeking declarations that the companies and Mr Patel contravened the ACL. It is also seeking injunctions, publication orders, pecuniary penalties and costs.
The matter has been filed in the Federal Court’s Fast Track List and is listed for a scheduling conference in Adelaide on 8 July 2013 at 9.30am.
The ACCC’s Compliance and Enforcement Policy is available at http://www.accc.gov.au/about-us/australian-competition-consumer-commission/compliance-enforcement-policy