The Federal Court has found Panasonic guilty of deceptive advertising and misleading consumers under section 52 of the Trade Practices Act 1974, for its 2008 Christmas Bonus Wii promotion.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Council (ACCC), took the electronics giant to court after it offered a bonus Nintendo Wii by redemption with the purchase of its Viera range of Plasma TVs between 23 November and 24 December 2008.
However, the company failed to give consumers important information on the conditions surrounding the promotion. In order to submit a valid redemption claim, consumers were required to provide the serial number of the participating television within 14 days of the date of purchase. The Court declared that Panasonic did not give consumers any guarantee that the consumer would receive delivery of the unit in order to register the serial number within the specified time frame.
Panasonic was ordered to pay the ACCC’s costs and establish and maintain a Trade Practices Compliance and Education and Training Program for its staff for a period of three years, to ensure they carried out their legal obligations.
ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said it is not enough to give the impression that ‘conditions apply’ to an offer in circumstances where particularly unusual and onerous conditions may render a consumer ineligible to receive the goods or services offered.
This outcome sends a warning about inducing consumers by offering free or bonus goods as ‘cash-back’ or ‘redemption’ offers and failing to deliver.