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Environmental Air Care fined $17,500

Environmental Air Care fined $17,500 for misleading claims about insect control products

Environmental Air Care Limited has been fined $17,500 and ordered to publish corrective advertising in the New Zealand Herald, Dominion Post and Press for making misleading claims about its Robocan time-dispensed insect control products, in breach of the Fair Trading Act.

The Commerce Commission laid charges against Environmental Air Care alleging that the way Environmental Air Care promoted its Robocan Insect Repellent and Robocan Insect Killer products gave the impression that they were substantially or entirely ‘natural’ products when this was not the case. Environmental Air Care pleaded guilty to the charges in the Auckland District Court yesterday.

Chair Paula Rebstock said that Environmental Air Care had made a number of claims in advertising including that the products used ‘mostly natural ingredients’ and were ‘based on natural pyrethrins’.

“In reality, while the products do contain pyrethrins, a natural insect control product, only 16.7 percent of the total active ingredients are natural.”

In addition, the Commission alleged that claims made that both products had MAF approval were misleading, as the Insect Repellent did not need, nor have approval, and the Insect Killer was only authorised by MAF for use in certain situations.

“The result of these misrepresentations, in conjunction with the misrepresentations that the product was substantially or entirely natural, may well have led customers to incorrectly believe that MAF was somehow endorsing the ‘naturalness’ of the products,” said Ms Rebstock.

“The term ‘natural’ is a powerful selling tool, especially in relation to insect control products. Therefore, any representations that the products are natural give Environmental Air Care an unfair advantage in the market.

“Customers who are influenced to purchase products such as these because of representations that they are natural, will generally not have the necessary specialist scientific knowledge to determine whether the claims being made are true.

“While customers should always be able to rely on the accuracy of claims being made by traders, in this case customers were particularly reliant on those claims being accurate” Ms Rebstock said.

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