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Beware of what you are marketing to please your customers, below is the incident where the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, ACCC ( under the Trade Practices Act 1974) have forced two solar power retailers in Queensland to change their marketing tactics after they found claims made in advertisements for home solar power systems were to mislead or deceive consumers.
The claims made in advertisements were -
1) That households could "wipe out" or eliminate their electricity bills by installing a 1.5kw Solar System.
2) The solar systems were available at heavily discounted prices, when they had never sold the systems at the higher prices or recommended retail prices (RRP) advertised, and
3) The discounted prices were available for limited periods and in respect of limited stock.
The ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said Before businesses claim their products have environmental or financial benefits they should carefully consider whether those claims are accurate and ensure that they are able to be substantiated."
The ACCC stated that the Advertisements were false, misleading and deceptive as -
1) A 1.5kw Solar System is not capable of generating sufficient electricity to eliminate an average household's electricity costs;
2) QSS had not sold any Solar Systems at the higher recommended retail price or "normal" price advertised;
3) The advertised discounted prices took into account the discount represented by the applicable Federal government subsidy and this was not stated or
4) the advertised discounted prices were only available to customers entitled to Federal government subsidies and this was not stated or made clear; and
5 the offers were not genuinely restricted to the periods advertised or to limited
stock because QSS always offered the Solar Systems at discounted prices.
The court enforceable undertakings require QSS and SSS to publish corrective notices in newspapers in Queensland and Victoria, in an industry magazine and on their websites. And also they were ordered to contact the old / past customers directly to inform them about the conduct and to set up a trade practices law compliance program.
More details about the ACCC powers to issue infringement, substantiation and public warning notices can be seen at -
The new Australian Consumer Law and general advice for small businesses on how to comply with the Act are available on the ACCC's website, www.accc.gov.au