Australian courts slapped fines of A$145,000 (£78k) on two companies for claiming their solar panels were Australian – when they were actually made in China.
Australia’s Federal Court found faked testimonials about the solar panels published on Youtube were not made by genuine customers of the companies.
Misleading claims were made online, in newspapers and on television between November 2012 and September 2013 by the penalised companies P & N and P & N NSW (trading as Euro Solar) and Worldwide Energy and Manufacturing (WEMA).
Competing businesses brought the ads to the ACCC’s attention.
Rod Sims, Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said: “Credence claims such as country of origin can be a powerful marketing tool for businesses, with consumers often prepared to pay a premium for products made in Australia.”
Justice Besanko of the Federal Court said in his judgement that it was “suggested in some of the advertisements that not only were the solar panels made in Australia but that customers or potential customers ought to be supporting them because of that fact” and that these representations “were a central part of the respondents’ business and marketing strategy”.
Euro Solar admitted the deeds in a “corrective notice” on its website, at the order of the court.