Australia’s competition watchdog is to prosecute two companies trading under the names of Euro Solar and Australian Solar Panel for allegedly misleading claims about the provenance of their solar products.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) accuses the two companies of allegedly claiming that they manufacture or supply solar panels made in Australia that have in fact been imported from China.
The ACCC has issued proceedings against P & N Pty Ltd and P & N NSW Pty Ltd, which trade as Euro Solar, and Worldwide Energy and Manufacturing Pty Ltd, which trades as Australian Solar Panel.
The watchdog has also issued proceedings against Nikunjkumar Patel for being party to the alleged practices.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said: “The ACCC is currently prioritising work in the areas of credence claims and fake testimonials.
“Consumers should be able to rely on the accuracy of labels, especially when they are prepared to pay a premium for products made in Australia. Misleading credence claims can have a significant impact on the competitive process and hurt the local economy.”
The ACCC alleges that since November 2012, Euro Solar and Australian Solar Panel have made representations online, in newspapers and on television about the origin of their products.
ACCC also alleges that written testimonials that appeared on australiansolarpanel.com.au, from January 2013 to February 2013, and video testimonials that appeared on YouTube and eurosolar.com.au, from May 2012 to February 2013, were not made by genuine customers of Australian Solar Panel or Euro Solar.
“Australian consumers are increasingly relying on online consumer reviews to inform their purchasing decisions. Fake testimonials can mislead consumers as a great deal of trust is often placed on these reviews. They also harm competitors who do the right thing,” Sims said.
The case is scheduled to be heard at the Federal Court in Adelaide on 8 July.