Thermomix knew TM31 was unsafe for months before issuing a recall: ACCC

Safety issues not addressed until after the release of a new model, court documents reveal.

Thermomix knew its $2000 kitchen appliance had led to customers being burned months before the company initiated a safety recall, the ACCC claims.

And yet it appears the company kept selling the TM31 – all the while promoting it as safe – until it could release and sell a replacement model.

This is on top of breaches of Australian product safety law, where the company failed to file more than a dozen mandatory injury reports in due time.

Problems with the TM31 stemmed from a $15 sealing ring that failed to keep the lid closed and contain hot liquids, leading to reports of people being burned and scalded when using it.

Thermomix was notified by customers who were seriously injured by the TM31 as early as March 2013, court documents filed by the ACCC reveal.

By May 2014, the tally of customers who had been burned or scalded had increased to five. At the same time 387 repair reports had identified problems with the lid, describing it as leaking, opening or being too loose.

In the following three months, the number of 'serious injuries' almost doubled to nine, while repair reports acknowledging faults with the lid almost trebled to 1119.

Thermomix continued to sell the kitchen appliance and, according to the court filing obtained by CHOICE, did not notify the ACCC of injuries sustained by two TM31 users; information that could have influenced the decision to begin a voluntary recall at the time.

The court case alleges Thermomix strong-armed owners to sign non-disclosure agreements and denied known safety issues.

Instead the Australian distributor chose to continue selling the TM31 until it was replaced by a newer model in September 2014.

Thermomix Australia initiated a voluntary recall of the TM31 in October 2014, a full year-and-a-half after being notified of the first serious injury a customer sustained using the kitchen appliance.

The recall involved a replacement seal being issued to Australian customers, who were told to use the machine at lower speeds until it was available in November.

The Australian distributor revealed – after the TM31 was no longer on sale – that the sealing rings used to keep the lid shut must be replaced every two years.

In March 2016, Thermomix's representatives at the time, Cannings Purple PR, denied the TM31 was part of a recall, issuing statements to the media saying "the TM31 has never been the subject of a product recall".

The ACCC is alleging this claim was false and misleading in its Federal Court case.

The court case brought by the ACCC alleges Thermomix breached several provisions of consumer law when it strong-armed owners to sign non-disclosure agreements and denied known safety issues.

It also alleges Thermomix failed to report injuries to the consumer watchdog within 48 hours of being notified. The court filing reveals Thermomix failed to uphold its obligation in fourteen instances.

One mandatory injury report was filed four years late.

Two others were filed more than 500 days late, another close to 300 days late and one 100 days late.

CHOICE contacted Thermomix for this article, but the Australian distributor declined to comment during legal proceedings.

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