Thermomix should be investigated by ACCC: Choice

12 May, 2016 by
Danielle Bowling

In Australia’s first mass incident report, consumer advocacy group Choice has presented the ACCC with 87 cases of Thermomix faults, 18 of which required the user to seek medical care.

Choice is calling on the regulator to issue a safety warning to consumers and investigate the reports further.

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A number of Thermomix users have suffered burns caused by the failure of the TM31 model – specifically its sealing ring, which was recalled in 2014 due to the possibility that users could be scalded if the Thermomix was switched to the lid-open position at high speed. Choice alleges that one consumer required treatment by a hospital burns unit at least a year before the product was listed on the national recalls website.

“Under ACCC’s mandatory reporting guidelines a supplier must provide written notice to the Commonwealth Minister for consumer affairs within two days of becoming aware that someone suffered a serious injury or illness that was caused (or may have been caused) by the use or foreseeable misuse of their product,” said Choice head of media, Tom Godfrey.

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In March this year, West Australian resident Danika Jones was using her Thermomix to prepare a pasta sauce when the door unexpectedly burst open, splattering hot liquid over her upper body. Thermomix releases a statement claiming that they had made numerous attempts to resolve the matter with Jones, but with no luck.

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“It is important that the appliance involved is made available for diagnosis, so that we can analyse how the TM31 was used and investigate whether operator error may have been a factor. The customer in this instance has so far declined to do this,” the company stated.

Thermomix’s response to the incidents has been substandard, Godfrey said. “We have received an alarming number of reports from people who say they had permanent scarring or were hospitalised after their Thermomix failed.

“These reports also allege the company has attempted to blame victims and downplay the danger this product presents.

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“It is deeply concerning that, in a number of cases, when the company was informed of an incident they blamed the consumer by classifying the product’s failure as ‘user error’,” he said.

“Based on the incidents identified in our report, it appears Thermomix should have made at least two mandatory reports before October 2014 and another eight after that date.”

Choice launched a campaign to shed light on any safety issues relating to Thermomix devices after it was revealed the company was asking consumers to sign non-disclosure agreements and gag orders before granting burn victims their refund rights.

It’s now calling on the ACCC to investigate what complaints Thermomix Australia received prior to the 2014 recall and whether the fix proposed, which included new green sealing rings, adequately addressed the problems.

“Since the recall, consumers using green sealing rings have still been harmed. Four of the serious burns cases documented in the mass incident report were from people already using the green sealing ring. Others have noticed ongoing problems,” Godfrey said.