23 Oct 2018

Water filter company fined $440,000 over spurious claims

3:41 pm on 23 October 2018

New Zealand company HRV has been fined $440,000 for making unsubstantiated claims about the benefits of its water filters.

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HRV wrongly created the impression home water supplies carry health risks if they are not treated. Photo: Michael Heim/ 123rf

The fine was handed down in the District Court in Auckland, after the company pleaded guilty to charges laid by the Commerce Commission.

Between July 2014 and October 2017, HRV claimed on its website that using its water filters could reduce skin conditions, such as eczema and dermatitis.

The company admitted the information available to it did not provide reasonable ground for the claims about the performance of its water filters.

HRV also made misleading representations about the need for consumers to buy water filters to address the quality of water supplies in their homes.

The company wrongly created the impression that home water supplies carried health risks if they were not treated.

Commerce Commissioner Anna Rawlings said HRV relied heavily on information provided by its supplier, without getting this verified by an expert.

"Although HRV had some testing done, the results did not provide a reasonable basis for the various claims it had made - and continued to make - about the benefits of using the filters," she said.

Consumers should be able to trust the claims businesses make about the need for a product and its performance.

"The onus is on traders to ensure that they have the information they need to back up the claims they make and that they do not overstate the need or potential benefit of their products or services," Ms Rawlings said.

In a statement, HRV said that following the Commission's original request for information, the company took steps to address the concerns and removed any inaccurate information.

It also put in place additional processes to ensure tighter control over marketing material in the future.

HRV said it accepted the Commission's findings and the fine imposed by the court.

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