Thermomix fined $4.6m after users burned by faulty appliances

The Thermomix is a fancy $2089 blender. The company is in trouble after dozens of customers reported their machines exploding and burning them with hot liquid

The court found that Thermomix had breached Australian Consumer Law by making false or misleading representations to consumers when it failed to report a safety issue with its TM31 appliance.

Justice Bernard Murphy said senior management at the company's Australian arm knew there were issues months before it recalled the product in October 2014.

ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said Thermomix placed the safety of consumers at risk by failing to notify them of the problems and then misled them over refunds.

Thermomix continued to supply and promote its product until 6 September 2014 and didn't notify consumers until 23 September 2014 that there was a known safety issue.

The company knew from 7 July 2014 there was a potential risk of injury to users caused by the lid lifting and hot food and/or liquid escaping from the mixing bowl before that food and/or liquid had settled.

Justice Murphy found that TIA was "engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and/or conduct liable to mislead the public" over several weeks to 23 September, 2014, by not alerting consumers and potential buyers of the problem, saying the product was not was fit for objective and safe to use.

A faulty part caused hot liquids to erupt from the device in some cases.

"Thermomix's penalties should serve as a reminder to all businesses that consumers have rights in relation to faulty products which businesses can not restrict, alter, or remove", said Ms Court said. "We regret this very much, are sorry, and apologise to those who were affected".

Thermomix was also found to have misled and deceived customers by issuing a press release in late 2014 stating its product was safe and there was no recall.

She said customers who bought a TM31 during the three-month period in 2014 during which customers were misled, will be offered a free TM5.

Judge Murphy ruled that the statement amounted to misleading and deceptive conduct and made false representations.

But at the time Thermomix actually knew about at least 35 cases where users had been seriously injured while using their TM31 models.

It also told a customer, referred to as "MV", that she would only get a refund for the $2,000 device if she signed an agreement that she wouldn't talk about the settlement, or say anything negative about Thermomix or its parent company Vorwerk.

The company told one customer she could only receive a refund if she signed a confidentiality agreement preventing her from commenting negatively about Thermomix.

Last night, the business is believed to have emailed its customers saying, "As you may be aware, Thermomix in Australia has reached a proposed resolution in relation to the proceedings brought against us by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission".

Thermomix agreed to pay the $4.6 million penalty in instalments, as well as $230,000 in legal costs incurred by the consumer watchdog.



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