Thermomix told customers they could obtain remedies only if they signed an agreement not to "disparage or otherwise comment negatively about" the company, in contravention of Australian consumer law, the ACCC alleges.
In May 2016, consumer advocacy group Choice found dodgy Thermomix machines had resulted in a shocking 87 burns cases of which 18 needed treatment, and eight people needed to be hospitalised - some of which were in the special burns unit for up to three weeks.
The ACCC first launched an investigation into Thermomix in August past year, after several incidents in which people claimed they suffered burns from mixers and were made to sign confidentiality agreements afterwards.
It's a much-loved kitchen staple and promises a lifetime of great meals, but the Thermomix has landed its Australian distributors in court..
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The TM31 model was recalled in October 2014, with Product Safety Australia warning: "In rare circumstances, if a Thermomix TM31 is operated at high RPMs and then is immediately switched to the "lid open" position, there is a possibility that liquid or food may splash out of the mixing bowl".
ACCC acting chair Delia Rickard said her organisation will also allege that Thermomix told some consumers it would not provide refunds or replacements, while others were told it would only happen if they signed agreements with non-disclosure terms and other terms that prevented them from making disparaging comments about the gadget.
"Consumers who have purchased a faulty product have rights under Australian Consumer law to remedies which businesses can not resist, alter, remove, and this includes getting a fix or replacement product, or a refund", ACCC Acting Chair Delia Rickard said.
Australian Consumer Law requires companies to notify the ACCC within two days when they have become aware that consumers have been injured by their products.
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One customer reported to the Sydney Morning Herald past year that she couldn't breastfeed her daughter for weeks after the machine malfunctioned, leaving her with severe burns to her arm and chest. The ACCC alleges that this occurred in 14 instances because Thermomix failed to give notice of these serious injury incidents within the mandatory two-day notification period. "This requirement exists to protect the safety of Australian consumers by helping to prevent further injuries", Ms Rickard said.
"Once you are aware your product is causing safety issues - which we are alleging [TIA] were - you really have an obligation to work with us and see if a recall is necessary", Ms Rickard said.
The consumer watchdog is seeking declarations, pecuniary penalties, injunctions, corrective publication orders, compliance program orders and costs.
It filed against Thermomix in the Federal Court today and the matter will begin on July 21.
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