WA consumers being misled about free showerheads

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All announcements issued prior to 1 July 2017 were issued by the former Department of Commerce. Announcements listed here are the latest versions available, but may be subject to review. For more information on this announcement, please contact online@dmirs.wa.gov.au.

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Consumer

Consumer Protection and Water Corporation are warning WA householders about a telemarketing business and a solar panel company that could be misleading consumers by claiming to promote a water-saving initiative.

Telemarketing salespeople have reportedly cold-called potential customers in Perth metropolitan and WA regional areas including the Wheatbelt, Peel and South West districts. The callers claim they are part of the Water Corporation’s “free Showerhead Swap program”.

When representatives of the business visit the home of interested consumers, a solar panel system is also offered.

Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said the “free showerhead” sales pitch was really designed to generate interest in the company’s solar panel business.

“The link to free showerheads seems to be a ploy to get a foot in the door and then the consumer is presented with an offer to purchase solar panels,” Mr Hillyard said.

“Giving consumers the impression that you are part of a Water Corporation program when you are not is misleading and contravenes the Australian Consumer Law. It concerns us greatly that a private company and their marketing consultants may be adopting these sales tactics.

“Under these circumstances, consumers would have the right to a ten day cooling off period as any contract signed would be regarded as an ‘unsolicited consumer agreement’. This is on the basis that the consumer did not originally invite the salespeople into their home to buy solar panels.”

Water Corporation spokesperson Clare Lugar said the free Showerhead Swap program, which was run periodically in the Perth metropolitan area, had recently ended but some programs were still available in selected regional areas.

“At no time have any of our Showerhead Swap programs been associated with solar panels,” Ms Lugar said.

“We have received more than 30 contacts from concerned customers in the last three months, who were approached by telemarketers and solar panel companies, associating themselves with our Showerhead Swap programs.

“If you are ever contacted by someone claiming to be from Water Corporation, you can check their photo identification card or phone us 24 hours a day on 13 13 75 to confirm they are an employee, or are associated with one of our programs.

“Water Corporation takes this very seriously and will continue to work with Consumer Protection to investigate this issue.”

Anyone who has been contacted regarding free showerheads and then offered solar panels is urged to report it to Consumer Protection by email consumer@commerce.wa.gov.au or by calling 1300 30 40 54.

END OF RELEASE

Media contact (Consumer Protection)

Consumer Protection
Media release
19 Jan 2017

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