Nurofen maker, Reckitt Benckiser, has been hit with an increased fine of A$6 million ($4.4 million) for misleading customers in Australia.
In 2015, Australia’s Federal Court ruled that products marketed as targeting specific pains, such as migraines, were actually identical.
The British company was fined A$1.7 million in April 2016, but Australia’s consumer watchdog argued the sum was too low.
On December 16, the court agreed to increase the penalty, saying: “The objective of any penalty in this case must be to ensure that Reckitt Benckiser and other <<would-be wrongdoers>> think twice and decide not to act against the strong public interest.”
Reckitt Benckiser was also ordered to pay the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) legal costs.
The ACCC said the pharmaceutical giant had profited substantially from misleading customers on products including Nurofen Back Pain, Nurofen Period Pain, Nurofen Migraine Pain and Nurofen Tension Headache.
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said: “This is the highest corporate penalty awarded for misleading conduct under the Australian Consumer Law.
“The ACCC welcomes this decision, having originally submitted that a penalty of $6 million or higher was appropriate given the longstanding and widespread nature of the conduct, and the substantial sales and profit that was made.”
In April, the court ruled that Reckitt Benckiser had contravened Australian consumer law by saying its Nurofen Specific Pain products were each formulated to treat a specific type of pain.
Each product contained the same active ingredient, ibuprofen lysine 342mg.
Reckitt Benckiser said: “Nurofen did not intend to mislead consumers, however we recognise that we could have done more to assist our consumers in navigating the Nurofen Specific Pain Range.”
Earlier this year, the company removed a TV advert for one of its products – Nurofen Express. The advert had implied that the capsules directly targeted muscles in the head.
Reckitt Benckiser has said it will not re-broadcast it, following complaints that the ad was misleading.
Volkswagen is being sued in Australia for allegedly misleading customers by selling modified vehicles that covered up emissions fraud.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) claims VW intentionally sold more than 57,000 such vehicles over a five-year period.
It is seeking a public declaration of misconduct, financial penalties and corrective advertising.
VW Australia said it is reviewing the ACCC claims.
In a statement, the company said it does not think that the court action “provides any practical benefit to consumers because software solutions for cars affected by the voluntary recall are expected soon”.
Volkswagen Group Australia managing director Michael Bartsch said: “The best outcome for customers whose vehicle is affected is to have the voluntary recall service updates installed.”
The ACCC lawsuit covers 10 VW car models including the top-selling Golf, Passat and Polo,
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in a statement: “These allegations involve extraordinary conduct of a serious and deliberate nature by a global corporation.
“We expect higher standards of behavior from all companies that supply to Australian consumers.”
The world’s second-biggest auto maker is also facing several private class action lawsuits in Australia.
VW has suffered a global backlash since revealing last year that around 11 million of its vehicles had software or so-called “defeat devices” designed to bypass official emissions tests.
The company has since had to pay billions of dollars in fines and settlements with both regulators and customers around the world.
Visa Credit Card Company has been sued by Australia’s competition watchdog for alleged “misuse of market power”.
The organization has accused Visa of preventing customers from using a currency of their choice in transactions.
The regulator also alleged that Visa “engaged in exclusive dealing” and barred retailers from using rival currency conversion services.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission alleged that such practices were meant to boost Visa’s revenue.
Rod Sims, chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said that such moves meant that travelers to Australia were not able to decide “who does their currency conversion when withdrawing cash from an ATM”.
Visa has been sued by Australia’s competition watchdog for alleged “misuse of market power”
“In particular, they are denied the ability to know the cost of transactions in their own currency at the time the transaction is made.”
Rod Sims added that Visa’s practices of not allowing use of rival currency conversion systems at merchant outlets also meant that retailers were denied opportunity to share the revenue arising from such transactions.
“Finally, it is alleged that Australian suppliers of dynamic currency conversion (DCC) services were, and continue to be, denied the opportunity to compete with Visa in relation to DCC services at ATMs.”
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