A water filter manufacturer and distributor has been fined $440K in the District Court after making unsubstantiated claims about the benefits of its filters. These included making false claims about the quality of the domestic water supply to inflate the need to buy filters. The company also failed to provide a reasonable basis for the claims it made about the filters' performance, which ComCom took seriously because customers were unable to evaluate the filters' effectiveness themselves.
A steel mesh manufacturer has received the largest ever fine imposed under the Fair Trading Act ($1.885M) for making false and misleading misrepresentations about steel mesh products used in earthquake strengthening. The company was convicted of 24 FTA breaches for having falsely represented to customers that the mesh had been tested to comply with relevant standards. The penalty was discounted from $2.9M due to the company's cooperation with investigators.
Fashion label WORLD has accepted a ComCom investigation finding that its "made in New Zealand" labelling may have breached the Fair Trading Act. The Commission found that WORLD's "Fabrique en Nouvelle-Zelande" swing tags on garments manufactured in China or Bangladesh could have misled consumers. During the 9 year period in question, 99% of WORLD's garments were made in NZ, but the Act requires accurate statements of each individual product's origin.
The Minister for Food Safety has announced the government will introduce mandatory pregnancy warning safety labelling on alcohol products to reduce New Zealand's high rate of foetal alcohol spectrum disorders. The new standards will be developed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand before being returned to a forum of New Zealand and Australian state ministers for approval.
Against the backdrop of intense government and media interest in irresponsible lending, ComCom has warned a lender they have likely breached lender responsibility principles under the CCCF Act 2003. The lender was found to have lent money without being satisfied the borrower could afford repayments without suffering substantial hardship, risking penalties if prosecuted.
ComCom has released information detailing electricity lines' companies investments in disclosing technologies such as electric vehicle charging, network batteries, solar power, and smart meters. New technology is likely to significantly benefit consumers, but raises competition law concerns in ComCom's close regulation of the electricity market, low levels of competition in which has raised concerns.
Following condemnation of unscrupulous business practices, the government has announced it will introduce a total cap on interest and fees charged for consumer borrowers, introduce tougher penalties of up to $600K for loan sharks who break borrowing rules, and require door-to-door vendors selling on credit and other mobile traders be fit and proper people. The new law is expected to be in place by 2020.
The District Court has fined a major Auckland IT retailer $77K for 14 counts of selling non-complaint extended warranties. The Court held that PB Tech had failed to comply with the Fair Trading Act requirements that customers being sold extended warranties be given a comparison of their CGA rights and the right to change their minds within 5 working days of buying the warranty.
The Australian Financial Services Royal Commission, the sensational findings of which have already prompted significant regulatory action in New Zealand, has issued its interim report in order to obtain further submissions before the next two rounds of hearings in November 2018 and the final report is issued by 1 February 2019. The report is expected to generate further pressure for NZ regulatory action.
The Building Practitioners Board has found a licenced carpenter worked outside his competence and in a negligent or incompetent manner by doing electrical and plumbing work. While the work did not require building consent, it should have been done by a properly licenced person, and the work done was not watertight. He was sentenced to 6 months' suspension and a $2K fine.