EXCLUSIVE: ACCC To Investigate Branded TV Sales

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EXCLUSIVE: The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission is set to investigate the sale of flat panel TVs and sound gear by distributors and Asian Companies, who are using well known brands to spruik TVs and sound gear that have little if any association with the manufacturer whose name is on the product.Ed Willett, a Commissioner at the ACCC, said that the matter was “well worth investigating” after he was told that retailers are being offered products believing them to be made or associated with the Company whose name is on the product.

Other aspects set to be investigated is whether the use of a household brand that in the past has been associated with a Company responsible for quality production and design as well as direct warranty support constitutes misleading marketing.

Investigations by ChannelNews reveal that some of the products being sold in Australia as a premium branded products are manufactured in Chinese Factories who have a reputation for cheap bottom end products.

 These factories often don’t take responsibility for warranty support and in some case buy panels that have been rejected by mainstream manufacturers.

The ACCC said that they will investigate the use of brand names such as Hitachi, AWA, Nakamichi, Soul, and Telefunken to see whether Companies are engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct by not telling consumers that the Company whose name is on the product is not responsible for selling the product, the warranty or the manufacture of the product.

Investigators are set to probe whether consumers who have been exposed to extensive consumer electronics marketing in the past by brands like Hitachi, are being mislead into believing that the products are actually manufactured and sold directly by the brand or a fully authorised distributor appointed by the brand whose product appears on the TV, air conditioning unit, headphone or sound system now being offered to retailers.

One Company set to be scrutinised is Tempo Australia, whose web site lists several major International brands including Hitachi TV’s Akai air conditioning, Nakamichi sound gear, Soul headphones and Onix vacuum cleaners.

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A visit to the Hitachi web site claims that the Company is no long selling consumer electronics products in Australia, a listing of Hitachi TV’s reveals that all of their consumer electronics products are listed as “discontinued”.

A spokesperson for Hitachi Australia said “We became aware that retailers were being offered a Hitachi TV in Australia, we also read about it on the SmartHouse web site. We are not associated with the sale of Hitachi TV’s in Australia and we are not aware of any association with Tempo Australia. This is a worrying development”.

 

“We have asked our Hitachi Singapore operation to investigate whether any other Hitachi division has authorised the sale of Hitachi branded TV’s in Australia”.

According to Nakamichi the Australian distribution rights to their sound gear are held by Signeo Design International in Hong Kong. This Company has no offices in Australia or any association with a distributor in Australia according to Company executives.

A visit to the Tempo web site reveals a single page with Hitachi TV’s Akai air conditioning, Nakamichi sound gear, Soul headphones and Onix vacuum cleaners listed. Visitors who try to click through the site for further information are presented with a page that say that the page is under construction.

The 008 number listed on the Tempo Australia web site comes up with a carrier message saying that the number is “disconnected or unavailable”.

A search of the Telstra White Pages reveals a 02 number for Tempo Australia which is constantly engaged. When one finally gets through to the number callers are asked to leave a recorded message.

Tempo has not returned our calls.

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