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Misleading labelling causes a consumer law headache for Nurofen

The manufacturer of painkiller label Nurofen has misled customers by falsely claiming that its products target different types of pain.

Nurofen has been selling a range of products that purportedly targeted different types of pain, including back pain, tension headache pain, period pain and migraines.

In fact, its products contain the same active ingredient: 342 milligrams of ibuprofen lysine.

Reckitt Benckiser cooperated with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) after conceding that none of its Nurofen range of products were better at treating one type of pain than another.

ACCC chairman Rod Sim pointed out that Nurofen was being sold at almost double the price of its rivals’ products and noted the potential risk that the misleading labelling presented.

“It’s conceivable someone could exceed the daily dose by looking at a pack of Nurofen Back Pain and taking that in accordance with what they should, and doing the same with Nurofen Tension Headache and thereby overdosing,” he said.

A spokeswoman denied the company intended to mislead. “The Nurofen specific-pain range was launched with an intention to help consumers navigate their pain relief options, particularly within the grocery environment when there is no healthcare professional to assist decision-making,” Montse Pena said.

Nurofen has 12 months to stop selling its mislabelled ‘specific pain’ range products in their current form. The company faces a fine of up to AUD$1.1 million per breach.

Source: AFR

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Homeopathy Plus! vaccine claims were misleading and deceptive: Federal Court

competition and consumer protection laws
A homeopathy company has been found by the Federal Court of Australia to contain statements amounting to misleading and deceptive conduct.

Homeopathy Plus! stated on its website that the whooping cough vaccine was “unreliable at best” and “largely ineffective”. This, the Court found, was misleading and deceptive conduct.

This case shows that false claims made about a competitor’s products can be in breach of Australian consumer law.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) takes action on exaggerated claims made by retailers or producers about their own products.

That wasn’t the only thing the Court found misleading and deceptive. It also took issue with the company’s claim that was an adequate foundation of medical science to indicate that homeopathy was an effective alternative to whooping cough vaccination.

The Court found that no such foundation existed, and that vaccination was the only disease prevention treatment approved and accepted by medical practitioners.

Financial penalties and other remedies will be determined by the Court on 4 February 2015.

Misleading and deceptive conduct comes in a variety of practices and affects all firms big and small.

Make sure you don’t misrepresent your products and services, or your competitors’.

Check out our competition and consumer protection law training courses to ensure your business is complying with the law.

Source: ACCC

Consumer advocates investigate spate of “Was/Now” retail claims

retail sales
NSW Fair Trading has issued substantiation notices to nearly half of the 78 traders they investigated, requiring them to back up claims that around 230 items labelled with “was/now” were made in good faith.

Consumer advocacy group Choice believes it’s a common enough phenomenon: retailers advertise the supposedly real savings that customers will gain when purchasing on-sale products. But recent complaints indicate that retailers may not always be telling the truth about the discounts they allege.

NSW Fair Trading Minister Matthew Mason-Cox said one retailer deceptively claimed a Canon inkjet printer “was $59, now $39”. However, due to a late delivery the printer was never sold at its original asking $59 price, rendering the retailer’s claim false.

“Traders were identified based on complaints data, as well as a co-ordinated internet scan to identify promotions on websites targeting Australian consumers,” the minister told the Sydney Morning Herald.

In NSW alone, fair trading officers launched investigations into 30 businesses, assessed over 150 discounted items and handed out over a dozen substantiation notices.

Currently, six traders were able to validate their was/now assertions, another six were still under investigation and one trader was sent an “education” letter to remind them of their obligations under the law.

Making false was/now claims can attract serious penalties under consumer law of up to $1.1 million.

In 2013, the Federal Court found jewellery maker Zamel guilty of misleading its customers with was/now price claims.

The retailer falsely advertised several items it sold “was $279, now $149” despite the fact they were never actually sold at its original advertised price. Zamel was fined $250,000.

With the Christmas season soon approaching, retailers are encouraged to comply with consumer protection laws or face similar sanctions.

The temptation of making a quick sale isn’t worth a knock on the door from consumer watchdogs.

Implement our Competition and Consumer Protection course today.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald