The Federal Court has ordered DuluxGroup (Australia) Pty Ltd (Dulux) to pay penalties totalling $400,000 for making false or misleading representations about the temperature reducing characteristics of two paint products, in proceedings brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
From June 2009 until September 2012, Dulux promoted its heat-reflective roof paint, InfraCOOL, as a paint that could reduce the interior temperature of the living zones of a house by up to 10 degrees.
From November 2011 to September 2012, Dulux also promoted its Weathershield Heat Reflect wall paint as a paint that could and would significantly reduce the interior temperature of a house.
The Court found that each of these claims was false or misleading after Dulux admitted that it did not have any reasonable grounds for making those representations.
“Dulux promised a real consumer benefit at a premium price, apparently supported by scientific evidence, when in fact Dulux had no reliable evidence of what benefit could be delivered in real world conditions because it had not tested for any reduction in the room temperature of houses painted with these products,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“Businesses have a responsibility to ensure that accurate information is given to consumers about the performance characteristics and benefits of their products, and that these claims are backed by adequate scientific or technical evidence. This is particularly the case where consumers pay a premium to purchase products that are promoted as delivering particular benefits,” Mr Sims said.
Dulux consented to declarations by the Court, and provided an undertaking to the Court not to make similar representations unless it has reasonable grounds for doing so and to clearly and prominently explain the factors that may reduce the effect of applying heat reflective paint.
Dulux was also ordered to publish corrective notices in The Australian newspaper and on its website, and to pay the ACCC’s costs.
Dulux represented that, when compared to standard paint of the same colour:
- Dulux InfraCOOL paint applied to the roof of a house could reduce the interior temperature of the living zones of that house by up to 10°C
- Dulux Weathershield Heat Reflect paint applied to the exterior wall of a house could and would:
- reduce the surface temperature of the external walls by up to 15°C
- significantly reduce the interior temperature of a house.
InfraCOOL was advertised in trade paint stores and on the Dulux website.
Weathershield Heat Reflect was promoted in a wide variety of media, including on the Dulux website and Facebook page, in lifestyle magazines, major regional newspapers across Australia, television advertisements, in-store pamphlets, flyers and colour cards and on the paint tins themselves.
Dulux no longer sells the Weathershield Heat Reflect paint.
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