Thermomix Maker, Distances Itself From Local Disti ,After $4.6M Fine
Vorwerk the German Thermomix kitchen appliance manufacturer who saw their distributor in Australia fined $4.6m yesterday in the Federal Court appear to be distancing themselves from their supplier Thermomix Australia.
Emails sent by a local PR Company representing the German Company, has said that Vorwerk was not a party in the caction bought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission against Thermomix Australia.
They also went on to stress that Thermomix in Australia (TiA) is the local distributor and that “there is no ownership relation between the two”.
The German Company has also not said whether they will contribute to the payment of the fine as it appears that the local distributor which had revenues of approximately $60M last year may not be able to pay such a large fine unless they had insurance to cover their business.
Thermomix Australia was fined $4.6 million after more than nine users were left with severe burns in what has been described as a serious breach of Australian consumer law.
ChannelNews understands that these consumers are taking separate legal action against the maker of the Thermomix appliance.
Federal Court judge Bernard Murphy slapped the fine on the distributor of the faulty Vorwerk made devices after it admitted it had not informed the government that its products had burnt or scalded some customers.
A WA mother suffered second-degree burns to her chest, arms and stomach after her Thermomix unexpectedly burst open while she was preparing dinner.
In handing down the penalty, Justice Murphy said Thermomix had information its products were potentially dangerous but did not tell consumers.
“This is a serious contravention of the act. Many consumers were exposed to the risk of serious burns,” Justice Murphy said
He also said that senior management at Thermomix was aware of the problem but did not act.
“They did not cover themselves in glory … they made the deliberate decision not to inform the consumers,” he added.
A Thermomix machine costs more than $2000 over 9000 products were sold in Australia between July and September 2014 despite the group being aware its product could cause serious injury.
The problem centred on the lid on its mixing bowl which came loose when consumers were using the machine.
A company is required under Australian consumer laws to notify the government within 48 hours if it has information its product could kill or injure people. In some instances, Thermomix took years to notify the relevant minister of its issues.
Thermomix was also found to have misled and deceived customers by issuing a press release in March 2014 stating its product was safe and there was no recall.
Those two statements were false, Justice Murphy said, adding the wide distribution of the press release in media stories compounded Thermomix’s breaches of consumer law – as did its repeated representations to customers that they could not receive a refund without first signing a gag order. The company has agreed to the findings and penalties.