11 August 2016
Consumer group CHOICE welcomes the ACCC's decision to officially investigate Vorwerk, the manufacturer of Thermomix, over safety concerns and mandatory reporting requirements but is concerned about the company's ongoing failure to release vital safety information to the public.
"While we welcome the ACCC's official investigation into Thermomix, we believe it is unacceptable that companies have the power to prevent vital safety issues and injuries caused by their products being made public," said CHOICE Head of Media Tom Godfrey.
In May 2016, CHOICE raised Thermomix safety concerns with the ACCC through Australia's first mass incident report. CHOICE's report found 83 incidents with TM31 and 4 incidents with TM5 machines, with at least 18 people needing medical treatment after being injured using their Thermomix.
"Our report highlighted how Thermomix tried to downplay the national recall of its flagship product and detailed numerous cases of the company playing hardball with consumers' rights after they received severe burns caused by the failure of their TM31 machine," Mr Godfrey says.
"Companies should not be allowed to run roughshod over basic consumer rights such as the right to a timely refund for a product of unacceptable quality."
CHOICE's mass incident report also raised concerns around Thermomix's compliance with mandatory reporting requirements, noting that the supplier should have made at least 10 mandatory notifications to the ACCC.
"If Australia's product safety system was more transparent, it's highly likely this investigation by the ACCC around a company's compliance with reporting requirements would not be necessary," says Mr Godfrey.
"It is deeply concerning that vital information about the number and nature of injuries caused by products like the Thermomix TM31 continues to be hidden from public.
"Because these reports are confidential, independent advocacy organisations like CHOICE have no way to confirm whether or not companies like Thermomix are complying with their legal requirements.
"Companies can choose to let the ACCC release this important information but instead Thermomix is playing hardball and gagging the regulator, forcing them to keep a lid on these safety reports despite the public interest in having this information," Mr Godfrey says.
Tom Godfrey, CHOICE, Head of Media and Spokesperson: 0430 172 669
Set up by consumers for consumers, CHOICE is the consumer advocate that provides Australians with information and advice, free from commercial bias. As vital today as when we were founded in 1959, CHOICE continues to fight for consumers and uncover the truth. By mobilising Australia's largest and loudest consumer movement, CHOICE fights to hold industry and government accountable and achieve real change on the issues that matter most.