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Clint's withdraws dangerous phone

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission today welcomed national retailer Clint's Crazy Bargains' agreement to withdraw from sale potentially dangerous mock antique telephones.

"The telephone could expose the user to unacceptable danger as a result of power surge whilst making a call," ACCC Chairman, Professor Allan Fels, said today. "This would be heightened in the event that this telephone was used in conjunction with a mains powered answering machine or a modem.

"The network infrastructure may also be damaged by the use of non-compliant handsets like this one with the likelihood of faulty billing information and instances of 'cross calls' greatly increased".

The wall mounted phones, advertised in June and July, were available throughout Queensland, New South Wales, the ACT and Victoria.

"The telephones did not have the necessary approvals for connection and it would not only be illegal but also hazardous to use the device as a telephone in the home.

"The ACCC believes Clint's Crazy Bargains may have breached the Trade Practices Act 1974 by in-store representations, and the catalogue advertisement, asserting that the 'antique' wall phone was suitable for use on the standard domestic telephone network.

"These representations were reinforced by Clint's shop attendants advising customers that the phones were suitable for use in the home and a picture on the catalogue cover of a woman using the phone.

"Under the Act companies are prohibited from making false or misleading representations and the representations by Clint's were likely to mislead consumers into believing that it would be legal and safe to plug the phone in at home," Professor Fels said.

Investigations by the ACCC and Australian Communications Authority revealed that the phone:

does not adequately insulate the user from a power surge up to 7000 volts - the minimum safety levels mandated under the Telecommunications Act 1992 ; had not gained approval for connection to the telephone network; and would fail technical performance tests needed for compatibility with the network.

After negotiations with the ACCC, Clint's Crazy Bargains has agreed, by way of court enforceable undertakings, to:

withdraw the product from sale;

place corrective advertising in major daily newspapers alerting consumers of the illegality of using the phones and advise them to return the phones for a full refund;

place similar warnings and notices in all its stores; and

provide a commitment to enter into a trade practices compliance program throughout its 70 stores.

Once alerted to the potential hazards of the phone Clint's Crazy Bargains, in conjunction with ACCC staff, acted quickly to recall the phones and alert purchasers not to use the phones.

Further information regarding misleading and deceptive conduct is set out in the ACCC publication Advertising and Selling, which is available for $10 from all ACCC offices or alternatively from the ACCC website, Click Here

24 August 1999

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