The Federal Court has ordered Kimberly-Clark Australia to pay a penalty of $200,000 for misleading consumers.
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) revealed in a statement that Kimberly-Clark had been handed the penalty after stating on its website that its Kleenex Cottonelle ‘flushable cleansing cloths’ were made in Australia, when they were in fact made in Germany, South Korea or the UK.
The false representations were made on the product website between 28 October 2015 and 24 February 2016, the ACCC said, while the product packaging contained the correct information about where the wipes were made.
“We know many Australian consumers place a premium on goods that are Australian made,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.
“This penalty should remind businesses of their responsibilities to ensure that representations on their website or packaging about the country of origin are accurate, so that consumers can make informed purchasing decisions.”
Kimberly-Clark agreed with the ACCC to make joint submissions to the Court in relation to the penalty of $200,000.
In June 2019, the Federal Court had found that Kimberly-Clark made false or misleading representations that the products were Australian made after Kimberly-Clark admitted this during the court case.
In the same case, the Court reportedly dismissed the major aspect of the ACCC’s case about whether the wipes were suitable to be flushed down the toilet, finding the company had not made false and misleading claims about the “flushabilty” of the wipes.
These findings were then upheld by the Full Federal Court on appeal. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the ACCC had failed to prove the now discontinued Cottonelle product (rather than wipes generally—and especially those not marketed as flushable) caused real harm to sewerage systems.
This case related to a type of wipes sold by Kimberly-Clark between May 2013 and May 2016. The products have since been discontinued, and replaced with a different range of flushable wipes.
It comes after the ACCC was initially made aware of Kimberly-Clark’s ‘flushable’ claims following a complaint from CHOICE in October 2015, after it awarded a ‘Shonky’ to the Kleenex Wipes for Kids.
The ‘made in Australia’ representation was identified during the course of the ACCC’s investigation.
Featured image source: Supplied
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