PAINT company Dulux will be forced to part with more than half a million dollars in total after it was found to have told consumers a few shaggy dog stories about the effectiveness of some of its paint products.
The Federal Court ruled DuluxGroup, whose mascot is an English sheep dog, engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by claiming its heat-reflective paint could substantially reduce the interior temperature of a house.
The case began back in 2012, when the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) began proceedings over Dulux’s promotion of the cooling capabilities of InfraCOOL and Weathershield Heat Reflect paints.
Dulux had claimed the paints could reduce temperatures inside homes and even cut power bills.
InfraCOOL and Weathershield Heat Reflect could reduce inside temperatures by up to 10C when applied to the roof, and by up to 15C when applied to the exterior walls, Dulux claimed.
“The ACCC believes Dulux has a corporate responsibility to make sure any claims it makes are accurate and backed by scientific and/or technical evidence,’’ ACCC chairman Rod Sims said at the time.
“This is especially so in relation to energy-use claims given widespread consumer concern about the rapid increase in Australia’s electricity prices.’’
The ACCC prevailed on Wednesday, with Dulux ordered by the court to pay a $400,000 penalty and legal costs of $150,000, and also publish a corrective notice in a newspaper and on its website.
A DuluxGroup spokeswoman said, “It’s disappointing that it has taken this amount of time and money to reach an outcome that we largely conceded soon after the ACCC commenced its action in 2012.”
“While the court found that Dulux’s conduct falls into the ‘lower to middling range of seriousness’, it is a matter that Dulux takes extremely seriously.
“We never set out to deliberately deceive and as soon as we learned of the breach, we withdrew the relevant advertising, took immediate steps to correct it and cooperated with the ACCC’s investigation.”
Dulux and the ACCC each commissioned independent experts to test the heat reflective properties of these two specialty products, and both agreed that the products effectively reflect heat, she said.
“However, some of the advertising material overstated the extent of the benefit that consumers could get from these products and, once Dulux was alerted to this, we withdrew materials that made those claims,” the spokeswoman said.
Dulux accepted the court’s finding.