Company prevented from selling 'Wave Shield'
Issued 1 August 2003-04/012
Company prevented from selling 'Wave Shield' mobile phone protection device - fined $4,000
A company claiming that its 'Wave Shield' mobile phone radiation protection device blocks up to 97% of electromagnetic radiation from the inner ear has been permanently prevented from marketing the product and convicted on four breaches of the Fair Trading Act.
The Commerce Commission sought permanent injunctions against Waveshield (New Zealand) Limited to prevent the company from advertising and selling its product. The company consented to these injunctions in May this year. Fines on the criminal convictions totalled $4,000 plus costs with company director Miles Dixon being personally liable for $2,000 of these.
Director of Fair Trading Deborah Battell said that the results of the Commission's actions have real benefits for consumers, protecting them from wasting their money on a product that doesn't work.
In its investigation, the Commission obtained expert evidence asserting that these types of devices do not provide any significant protection from electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones.
Ms Battell said that the experts advised that electromagnetic radiation is emitted from the entire body of a mobile phone, in particular the antennae.
"A small patch of shielding material would not prevent a reduction of up to 97% as claimed, as the radiation waves would simply go around the patch, and would not, in any case, only be absorbed through the inner ear," she said.
"Even if the Wave Shield device was effective, the experts advised that there is no scientific or medical reason to believe that it would confer any benefit to a user as there are no proven health risks associated with mobile phone use," Ms Battell said.
The Commission was concerned that the company was not only making false and misleading claims about the efficacy of the product, it was also promoting the fact that the device had been 'tested' and is 'proven'.
"The test results posted on the Waveshield website to substantiate the claims made in the advertising are not recognised as scientifically credible by experts in the field," Ms Battell added.
In sentencing in the Christchurch District Court yesterday, Judge Erber noted that Mr Dixon knew that the device was being questioned by the US authorities yet carried on with the sale of the product. He also commented that the defendants were acting as 'snake oil merchants'.
"The Commission will continue to take legal action against businesses that take advantage of consumers by making pseudo-scientific claims that are difficult for consumers to prove or disprove," Ms Battell said.
Waveshield made misleading representations in the packaging, promotional material, internet website and radio advertising for the Wave Shield device relating to its effectiveness in blocking up to 97% of electromagnetic radiation from [the] inner ear.
The Federal Trade Commission in the United States has also taken action against the US distributor of the device. Information on the Federal Trade Commission's action against Comstar Communications Inc, is available at http://www.ftc.gov/search?NS-search-page=results