TomTom (ANZ), Navman Australia and Garmin Australasia have agreed to cease making ‘lifetime’ claims, after the ACCC deemed the marketing statements were potentially false, misleading or deceptive.
Considered three of Australia’s biggest GPS manufacturers, the claims were made on packaging, point-of-sale materials, online, plus retailers’ catalogues.
Examples include; ‘Lifetime TomTom Traffic’ [TomTom], ‘Free Lifetime Maps & Traffic’ [Garmin] and ‘Lifetime FREE Maps – Never worry about maps again. Updated quarterly, you will always stay up to date with our Lifetime FREE Maps including updates to safety alerts at no additional cost’ [Navman].
The ACCC questioned the validity of such ‘lifetime’ claims, after the companies retained the ability to cease providing services before the device’s lifetime in some cases.
The consumer watchdog asserts limitations were not clearly communicated to consumers.
All three companies have agreed to amend future advertising and marketing materials, including packaging.
“Consumers would have rightly expected to receive those services for the lifetime of the device, without the manufacturer being able to unilaterally terminate the commitment,” claims ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court.
“Businesses must not deceive or mislead consumers in advertising, whether through small print, or by using ill-defined, broad terms like ‘lifetime’, and they should take care to use terms that match the understanding of consumers.”
“We also encourage consumers to invoke their consumer rights if they believe they have been misled or are not getting what they paid for.”
Internationally, TomTom has set its sights on challenging Google’s navigation software, following the sale of its telematics division to automotive giant Bridgestone Europe for US$1 billion.
Whilst best known for its GPS devices, TomTom’s telematics provide real time driver information and location to businesses managing fleets.
Set to revive the once strong company, shares in TomTom plummeted from ~$65 in 2007 to under $3 in two years, driven by the growth of Google and Apple navigation systems.