Thermomix have been fined $4.6 million after failing to properly inform owners of the recalled TM31 model about the risk of severe burns and scalds from faulty units.
The TM31 was recalled in 2014 after a faulty seal resulted in burns and scalds to customers, including one child. However, the The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said action was not taken soon enough, and Thermomix admitted to four breaches of Australian consumer law.
Legally, a company is required to notify a government agency of any injury or death involving their product within 48 hours of the incident. However evidence revealed that three months elapsed between Thermomix becoming aware of the injuries and issuing a recall.
In that time they continued to sell the impaired appliance, earning an estimated revenue of $16 million.
Thermomix then made false statements regarding the TM31 in 2016, saying it had never been part of a recall and was “absolutely safe” – by which time 35 injuries had been reported.
Under Australian consumer law, all customers were entitled to a refund of the $2000 appliance, however Thermomix refused to pay and in one instance required a customer to sign a confidentiality agreement before returning any money.
Justice Bernard Murphy said the behaviour of the Australian arm of Thermomix in response to the crisis was a “deliberate” attempt continue to make sales. They were fined $4.6 million for contravening Australian consumer law.
Sarah Agar, of the consumer advocacy group CHOICE, said the decision was welcome, but not harsh enough.
“Our report presented 87 Thermomix cases, with 18 people requiring treatment from a doctor or nurse,” Ms Agar told the ABC.
“Sellers should have an obligation to make sure the products they sell are safe before they hit the shelves.”
Recovering caffeine-addict and serial bruncher Eliza Murray feels most at home typing away in a cozy cafe with her re-mortgaged avocado toast nearby. When she isn't reporting on the latest Instagram-shattering glittery food trends, she can be found experimenting with new gin garnishes (hello strawberries!) or biting into an entire wheel of brie (no shame). She tweets @theothereliza