Thermomix, the distributor of the $2000 all-in-one kitchen machine embroiled in an ongoing safety recall, has conceded to half the allegations made against it in a Federal Court case brought by the ACCC.
The court case centres around the TM31, a product distributed by Thermomix
from 2006 until it was discontinued in 2014. All 105,000 units
were recalled thereafter following a series of burn incidents.
Thermomix has admitted to owing relief payments for two of the four
allegations made against it by the ACCC: for the filing of
mandatory incident reports years late, and for rejecting claims that the TM31 was part
of a recall campaign.
But the company denies it delayed addressing the safety issues posed until a replacement was available, or that it misled customers about their
Thermomix could have to pay millions as each breach of Australian Consumer Law by a business carries a fine of up to $1.1 million. Then there are the $16,650 fines imposed each time a mandatory incident report is filed late.
Companies are bound by law to notify the ACCC within two days when their
products are linked to an injury or death. Thermomix missed the deadline to file fourteen mandatory incident reports, including one that was 1201 days late, two that were more
than 500 days late and another that was close to 300 days late.
It's possible that the late filing of two of the incident reports may have delayed the recall of
the TM31, allowing the company to introduce a replacement before acknowledging a fault with the $2000 outgoing model.
The fault with the TM31 has to do with a $15 sealing ring which helps
ensure the lid stays shut, containing the hot liquids inside. It was only
after the TM31's eight-year production run ended that Thermomix informed
customers the sealing ring would need to be replaced every two years.
In the three months leading to August 2014, the number of 'serious injuries' linked
to the TM31 almost doubled to nine, while repair reports acknowledging
faults with the lid almost trebled to 1119.
But Thermomix kept selling the models and promoting it as safe until the TM5 could be released. The company's public relations firm at the time, Cannings Purple PR,
released a statement that undermined the seriousness of the recall
"We would like to clarify that the TM31 has never been the subject of a
product recall," the statement read. "We want to reassure our 300,000
Australian customers that Thermomix products ... are absolutely safe,
providing they are used in line with the manufacturer's instructions."
Thermomix has now conceded this statement was misleading, as per the ACCC's allegations.
It will dispute the remaining allegations brought by the ACCC in Federal Court on 9 April next year.