The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's proceedings in the Federal Court against the supplier of a plug-in pest device have been discontinued following the court's acceptance of Pest Free Australia Pty Ltd undertakings.
The ACCC alleged that Pest Free made representations that its electronic plug-in devices had performance characteristics, uses or benefits they did not have. The representations were made in a television advertisement, on Pest Free's website, and in other brochures and promotional material.
As part of the settlement of this matter the company gave undertakings to the Federal Court to refrain "from making representations that the devices, when operating within a person's premises will:
- affect the sensitive metabolism of pests such that they cannot eat, drink, sleep or breed
- cause the death by dehydration and/or starvation of pests if they are unable to escape the effect of the devices
- in the absence of further scientific evidence, have any impact on the behaviour of spiders or pests other than rats, mice and cockroaches
- affect the breeding cycles of rats, mice and/or cockroaches
- stop pests nesting and breeding
- disorientate pests such that they become easier to catch
- cause most pests to move from a person's premises within 1 to 4 weeks from commencement of use of the devices
- stress, disorientate and dehydrate pests to such an extent that they will eventually die
- permanently rid premises of pests
- create an environment where things such as rats, mice and cockroaches cannot eat, drink or breed".
The court granted leave for the ACCC to discontinue proceedings against the company and its directors. The court noted that the parties agreed that the discontinuance was without prejudice to previous costs orders in the respondent's favour and that each party bear its own costs since 30 June 2004.
ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel said the ACCC is pleased the proceedings have been settled with the company offering undertakings to the court.
"Any claims made as to efficacy or performance characteristics of a product must be accurate and truthful. If a company makes a representation as to a future action it must have a reasonable basis for making the claims.
"The ACCC is also aware of similar plug-in devices on the market and is concerned about some of the claims being made in relation to those devices. Sellers of such devices should exercise due diligence to ensure that any claims made about operation or effectiveness have a sound basis in fact", he said.
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