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Methven fined $50,000 for misleading on shower savings

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Oct 4 NZPA - Bathroom fittings company Methven was fined $50,000 after it admitted misleading consumers in advertisements about the potential savings gained when using the Satinjet shower product range.

The company pleaded guilty to nine breaches of the Fair Trading Act, and in Waitakere District Court today was fined and ordered to pay court costs, the Commerce Commission said.

The advertising campaign was carried out between May 2008 and February 2009. It claimed that significant savings for both hot water energy and total water use could be achieved by installing a Satinjet showerhead with a nine or 14 litre flow restrictor, compared with conventional showers.

But a commission investigation found that about 60 percent of New Zealand showers already flowed at a rate of nine litres per minute or less, meaning those households would not have achieved any of the claimed savings by installing a Satinjet showerhead with a 9 or 14 litre flow restrictor.

While households with showers operating at flow rate of above nine litres per minute would have achieved some savings, only those households with showers operating at or above 20 litres per minute flow would have achieved significant savings, the commission said.

Methven New Zealand chief executive Gary Nel said no deliberate intention was made to mislead consumers with false information, but the company accepted the wording of the advertising was, "at worst, careless".

Comparisons between Satinjet and average or ordinary showers could have been misunderstood, Mr Nel said.

Methven regretted the error, which was inadvertent.

"Satinjet can deliver the savings claimed, along with a luxury experience, versus a conventional shower run on mains pressure, provided the existing flow rate is at least 20 litres per minute and our product is installed as we recommend. The Commerce Commission did not question the savings in these conditions."

The advertisements and all marketing materials were recalled and corrected voluntarily before charges were laid.

It was the first time Methven had been investigated for breaching the Fair Trading Act and the company had cooperated fully and corrective actions had been implemented, Mr Nel said.

Advertising approval processes had been tightened to prevent a repeat of the same sort of error.

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