16 June 2017
CHOICE has welcomed the ACCC’s decision to take Thermomix to court alleging multiple breaches of the Australian Consumer Law, but says the process highlights the need for more transparency around product safety.
It comes more than 12 months after CHOICE presented the ACCC with Australia’s first mass incident report on product safety, detailing 87 Thermomix cases - 18 reporting treatment from a doctor or nurse –and called on the regulator to issue a safety warning and investigate further.
“The allegations against Thermomix are serious and go to the heart of Australia’s product safety protections,” says CHOICE Director of Campaigns, Matt Levey.
“It’s further evidence of why the government needs to lift the veil of secrecy from mandatory product safety reporting.
“At present while businesses have an obligation to report any product safety incident that causes death or serious injury, there is no requirement for these reports to be made public.
“Since 2011 more than 10,000 reports have been made but only eight of these have seen the light of day.
“In our report last year, we found that Thermomix played hardball with numerous consumers after they received severe burns caused by the failure of the company's TM31 machine and tried to downplay the national recall of its flagship product.
"A number of cases reported that when the company was informed of an incident they blamed the consumer by classifying the product's failure as 'user error'.
“In some cases, the company forced consumers to sign non-disclosure agreements and gag orders before granting burn victims their refund rights.
“This is appalling conduct and we believe it should not be tolerated under Australia’s product safety laws,” Mr Levey says.
CHOICE received reports from consumers suggesting Thermomix was informed about the failure of its popular TM31, which led to at least one consumer requiring treatment by a hospital burns unit, at least a year before the product was listed on the national recalls website – alerting the public to the potential danger.
“Australians need to have confidence in our product safety regime. It’s critical that businesses notify regulators as soon as they become aware of product safety incidents, and move swiftly and effectively to remove unsafe products from people’s homes.
“The ACCC’s action will determine whether Thermomix has met these very clear obligations,” Mr Levey says.
For more information on CHOICE’s 2016 Mass Incident Report to the ACCC on Thermomix see www.choice.com.au/thermoburns
Media contact: Nicky Breen, CHOICE 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.