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ACCC Deeply Concerned Over Damage That Can Be Caused By Infinity Cables

ACCC Deeply Concerned Over Damage That Can Be Caused By Infinity Cables

The ACCC said the Infinity (and Olsent-branded) electrical cables sold at Masters Home Improvement from April 2012 to August 2013, do not comply with electrical safety standard AS/NZS 5000 and have been 
installed in around 40,000 houses and businesses around Australia. 

The cables have repeatedly failed the relevant Australian standards, which are mandated and enforced under State and Territory electrical safety laws. The current expert advice available indicates that safety issues with the cable may begin to arise from 2016 onwards.  

ACCC chairman, Rod Sims, has updated Senators on this area, whilst appearing before the Senate Economics committee estimates hearing. It was agreed the Commonwealth would deal with national and/or major suppliers of the cable, and the States and Territories would be responsible for single state, smaller suppliers.

The ACCC has issued further recalls of the cables today, requiring steps to be pro-actively taken by suppliers to remediate the faulty cables.

“This is a timely reminder that companies should ensure that they have effective quality assurance processes in place to prevent unsafe products from reaching their shelves,” Sims said.

“This is particularly the case with companies sourcing or accepting products from less expensive overseas suppliers. Consumers usually know that the better the bargain the more wary they need to be; consumers would expect companies selling such goods to be wary on their behalf,” he added.

It is estimated that around 40,000 households and businesses may have been affected. The relevant periods of cable supply are: 2010-2013 (in NSW), 2011-2013 (in ACT), 2012-2013 (in VIC, QLD, SA and WA) and 2013 (in TAS).

The recalls cover: in the ACT – George Brown Electrical and Voltair Electrical and Airconditioning. In Victoria – ABC Arian Electrical Suppliers, Phoenix Wholesalers, Titan Trading and Wholesale Electrical Supplies. 

A further two suppliers have already remediated the cable they supplied – one in Queensland and one in Victoria.

“While the majority of this cable was supplied through the electrical retailers and wholesalers covered by the national recall on August 27, some cable was supplied in small quantities by a number of smaller 

suppliers. State and ACT safety agencies have now been in contact with those suppliers and have announced further recalls today,” Sims said.

“This is an additional reminder to homeowners and electricians to be aware of the Infinity cable issue. While consumers should not attempt to inspect cables themselves, careful steps should be taken by a licensed electrical contractor to avoid electric shock or fires from occurring in coming years. Homeowners and tradespeople are urged to turn off all the main power switches at the switchboard before heading up into the ceiling space at all times.”

“We also urge electricians and builders to alert their consumers and their cable supplier if they have installed Infinity cables,” he added.

The ACCC said householders and businesses which have had electrical wiring work carried out during the relevant periods, need to contact the responsible builder, electrical contractor or appliance installer 

to confirm whether Infinity cable was used. If Infinity cable was supplied, the cable supplier will arrange for an inspection of your wiring and remediation of any installed Infinity cable that they supplied, free of charge to the consumer. Any affected cable installed in accessible areas or near heat sources must be removed and replaced under the safety recall.

The ACCC said that all cables will age at different rates subject to ambient temperature and the load placed on them.  Current expert advice is this cable may become brittle from 2016 onwards, and suppliers have been asked to assess and work on the oldest or highest risk installations first.

If consumers are uncertain if Infinity cable was installed, the original electrician or appliance installer, or whoever they have nominated as the cable supplier, should be given the first opportunity to arrange an inspection of the wiring. If consumers are uncertain who they were, you can arrange for a licensed electrical contractor to inspect your wiring. Inspection costs are not recoverable from cable suppliers if Infinity cable was not installed or if the cable installer and the supplier cannot be determined. If consumers have any unused or removed Infinity cable, they should return it to the cable supplier for a full refund or replacement.

“The consumer guarantees of the Australian Consumer Law may also apply. While it depends on the circumstances, consumers could be entitled to a broader remedy involving additional replacement or refund from builders or electrical contractors,” Sims said.

For more information go to www.accc.gov.au