What rights do you have to seek compensation on a faulty product?

The popular cult kitchen all-in-one appliance Thermomix is in hot water once again with claims that owners (and ex-owners) were coerced into signing gag orders or non-disclosure agreements, with allegations that they were intimidated and bullied when they attempted to seek a refund, repair or replacement of faulty appliances. This follows a recall of faulty sealing rings of the TM31 Thermomix models, which led to a listing on Australia’s national product recalls website in 2014, warning that users could be scalded by hot contents if the seal bursts open when the machine is in use. As a result, unhappy Thermomix owners have spoken out in support of a Western Australian mother who suffered horrific second-degree burns after her appliance malfunctioned. 

However, despite the recall in 2014 and the supply of replacement rings to all Thermomix owners of the TM31 model, it has been reports that the product remains faulty. This lead to many users to contact Thermomix, requesting either a refund or an upgrade, only to be told that they could simply remedy their situation by selling their machine on eBay or Gumtree. There have also been recent allegations that consumers were bullied into signing non-disclosure agreements that prevent a consumer from taking legal action against Thermomix before the company agree to refund the faulty product.

This has lead to the independent, not-for-profit consumer organisation, CHOICE to investigate and call all consumers who have suffered burns or injuries whilst using a Thermomix to report their experience so that they can submit Australia’s first mass incident report to the ACCC (Australian Competition & Consumer Commission) to call for a further investigation. This report has yet to be submitted.

Australian Consumer Law states that manufacturers of goods are liable to compensate if the goods have a safety defect and that an individual suffers injuries as a result of the use or operation of the product, provided that the product is supplied in trade or commerce. The ACCC has also reissued the Consumer Product Safety Recall Guidelines in December 2015, which sets out the legal requirements for suppliers in relation to a consumer product recall.

Interestingly, there is no statutory guidance as to the measure of damages – that is, it is the same damages recoverable for negligence under common law.

The law of negligence imposes a general duty of care on manufacturers and suppliers of all goods (not just consumer goods) to take appropriate steps to minimise the risk of personal injury or property damage caused by defective products or unsafe goods.

The time for commencing actions is limited by section 143 of the Australian Consumer Law, which states that a person may commence a defective goods action at any time within 3 years after the time the person became aware, or ought to have become aware of the alleged loss or damage, safety defect and identity of the manufacturer. If the prescribed period of limitation lapses, then the claimant would no longer be legally able to enforce their rights. Therefore if you believe you have sustained an injury or injuries as a result of defective products or unsafe goods then it is important to seek immediate medical assistance and legal advice.

Call 13 43 63 and speak to one of our personal injury lawyers about our defective product claims. We offer ‘No Win-No Fee‘, however conditions do apply. Our NSW offices are in Sydney, Parramatta, Newcastle, Penrith, Wollongong and Gloucester.