Retailers Clews Holdings Pty Ltd (Clews), which supplies Seniors Plus products, and D Burnz Investments Pty Ltd (D Burnz), which supplies Better Living Australia products, have each paid $20,400 in penalties following the issue of two infringement notices to each company by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The ACCC issued the infringement notices because it had reasonable grounds to believe that Clews and D Burnz had each made false or misleading representations about their adjustable beds and associated mobility equipment, in breach of the Australian Consumer Law.
“The ACCC’s action forms part of a broader investigation into a number of businesses selling adjustable beds and mobility equipment, often to elderly and potentially vulnerable consumers,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
Seniors Plus branded goods
From at least July 2015, brochures for Seniors Plus branded goods used the Commonwealth Coat of Arms accompanied by the words “Australian Government”, “Department of Health and Ageing” and “Therapeutic Goods Administration”. The words “TGA Approved products” were used elsewhere in the brochures. The ACCC considered that the brochures represented that the goods were sponsored or approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (the TGA), when this was not the case.
In addition, a logo containing an image of a kangaroo and four ticks accompanied by the words “Australian Standard and Design” was included in the brochures for Seniors Plus products. The ACCC considered that this represented that the products complied with an Australian Design Standard when in fact no such standard existed.
Better Living Australia branded goods
From at least July 2015, brochures for Better Living Australia branded goods contained an express representation that Better Living Australia branded adjustable massaging beds had been awarded a certificate by the TGA, when this was not the case. The brochures also contained a representation that motors in these adjustable massaging beds were made in Germany, when in fact they were made in China.
“False representations that therapeutic products have TGA or other government approval can mislead elderly or other vulnerable consumers when they are choosing to make what can be very significant purchases,” Ms Rickard said.
“Businesses should be aware that entry of a product in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods does not allow them to represent that those products are approved or sponsored by the TGA or the Commonwealth Government, and that such representations are likely to breach the Australian Consumer Law.”
The payment of a penalty specified in an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the Australian Consumer Law. The ACCC can issue an infringement notice where it has reasonable grounds to believe a person has contravened certain consumer protection laws.
The TGA, which forms part of the Australian Government’s Department of Health, is responsible for the regulation of therapeutic goods in Australia to ensure their safety, quality and effectiveness. Businesses wishing to promote and sell products with claimed therapeutic uses generally must have these products entered in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) prior to supply and use in Australia. Inclusion in the ARTG does not mean that the TGA endorses or sponsors the use of any kind of product.