False claims accorded stiff penalty
Telling people tap water causes cancer and miscarriages, and comes from the sewerage system has earned a businessman and his company hefty fines.
During 2009 and 2010 staff working for Love Springs told potential customers that drinking tap water could cause birth defects, leukaemia and asthma among other things to convince them to buy water filters.
More than 6000 water filters costing $1600 each were sold in that time. The company targeted vulnerable people in some of Auckland’s low-income suburbs.
Scientific testing proved the claims of health risks were false.
In 2010 the Commerce Commission got an injunction to stop Love Springs making the claims, which it says went against the Fair Trading Act.
Newton-based Love Springs was fined $355,000, and its director Phillip Smart $200,000, at the Auckland District Court last week.
Mr Smart has previously been convicted of similar offending in Australia.
‘‘This was nasty and cynical offending which deserved the significant penalties imposed,’’ Commerce Commission head of investigations Ritchie Hutton says.
‘‘This offending caused significant harm to the public.’’