Water filter company HRV Clean Water (HRV) has been fined $440,000 in the Auckland District Court after pleading guilty to making unsubstantiated claims about its water filters and making misleading claims about the quality of tap water.
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The Vector-owned company admitted it didn’t have reasonable grounds for claims it made about its water filter systems.
The unsubstantiated claims related to the magnetic “ionizer” in its water filter systems being able to soften water, the benefits customers could expect with using the water filters, and the filters’ ability to improve skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis.
The claims were on HRV’s website between July 2014 and October 2017, and in promotional materials. They included statements such as “removes existing lime scale and extends the life of your appliances” and “reduces skin irritations, dermatitis and eczema”.
Commissioner Anna Rawlings said the information available to HRV didn’t provide a reasonable basis for a number of the performance claims it made.
“HRV did not have reasonable grounds to claim the filter could soften water through its magnetic process,” she said. “HRV relied heavily on the information provided by the supplier without getting this verified by an expert. Although HRV had some testing done, the results did not provide a reasonable basis for the various claims it had made – and continued to make – about the benefits of using the filters,” she said.
HRV also made misleading representations about the quality of New Zealand’s home water supply, claiming “90% of our water ways are polluted below swimming standards, yet this is where we source our water from”, and that the filter would “remove many of the additives, as well as funny tastes and smells from your water supply”.
“The water filter was an expensive and technical product. Consumers should be able to trust the claims businesses make about the need for a product and its ability to deliver on the promises made about its performance, particularly when they cannot scientifically test the benefits or second guess promotional statements themselves,” Ms Rawlings said.