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Vector's HRV unit pleads guilty to misleading consumers over water softening claims

Tuesday 26th June 2018

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Vector's HRV home ventilation unit has pleaded guilty to misleading consumers over the level of chemicals and additives in the nation's water supply and in overstating the benefits of its water filter system provided.

In the Auckland District Court today, HRV Clean Water, which is ultimately owned by Auckland-based lines company Vector, pleaded guilty to 11 charges under the Fair Trading Act brought by the Commerce Commission, and will be sentenced on Sept. 14, the regulator said in a statement. The charges related to promotional material on the company's website between July 2, 2014 and Oct. 12, 2017, largely pre-dating Vector's ownership.

The regulator said HRV made unsubstantiated claims about the ability of the filters to soften water, the benefits of soft water and its ability to reduce skin conditions.

"The other commission charges are that HRV made misleading representations about the levels of chemicals and additives in New Zealand’s domestic water supply, and the need for consumers to buy a water filter to address this," it said in a statement.

Vector bought E-Co Products Group, better known as home ventilation firm HRV, and solar installation division PowerSmart in 2017 for a combined $91 million as a means to further broaden its energy services.

The HRV Clean Water unit said in a separate statement the marketing was "based on information provided by the company’s specialist supplier" and inaccurate information was immediately removed based on the regulator's feedback, saying it takes this kind of investigation "very seriously".

"We have put in place additional processes to ensure tighter control over our marketing material in the future," it said.

Fair Trading Act breaches attract fines of up to $600,000 for companies and $200,000 penalties for individuals.

Vector shares fell 0.9 percent to $3.36, having slipped 2.3 percent so far this year.


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