Brand Developers Ltd (BDL), a company known for its television infomercials, has been fined $153,000 in Auckland District Court over selling unsafe Transforma Ladders.

It’s the first time the Commerce Commission has prosecuted a company for selling a product in breach of an Unsafe Goods Notice. The Auckland-based company, which also trades as TV Shop, pleaded guilty to five charges under the Fair Trading Act. Brand Developers advertised the TR24 and TR35 Transforma Ladders as compliant with the standard for portable ladders to a load rating of 180kg, despite not being tested against all parts of the standard at this rating.

Even after the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) issued an Unsafe Goods Notice prohibiting the sale of multi-purpose ladders that did not meet the standard, Brand Developers continued to advertise and sell the Transforma ladders. When tested by the commission at a load rating of 180kg, both models failed to meet the standard. One ladder became deformed during testing.

Commissioner Anna Rawlings said the ladders were introduced to the market with a load rating of 120kg but the label was then changed to 180kg.

“The 180kg load rating provided a point of difference in advertising the ladders but BDL did not carry out the required testing to ensure that the ladders were safe to use at that weight. And they weren’t,” Ms Rawlings said.

About 7800 ladders were sold between 2010 and 2013. The infomercials claimed “the ladder meets or exceeds New Zealand safety standards for portable ladders” and that “it is rated to a whopping 180kg”.

Those who bought the ladders were notified of the issue by Brand Developers. The process was overseen by MBIE. Anyone with concerns about their Transforma ladder can contact Brand Developers on 0800 008 666.