Kimberly-Clark fined $200,000 over ‘made in Australia’ product claims

The false representations were made on the product website between 28 October 2015 and 24 February 2016.

The Federal Court has ordered Kimberly-Clark Australia to pay a penalty of $200,000 for  falsely representing on its website that its Kleenex Cottonelle ‘flushable cleansing cloths’ were made in Australia.

The false representations were made on the product website between 28 October 2015 and 24 February 2016, while the product packaging contained the correct information about where the wipes were made.

A spokesperson for Kimberly-Clark Australia said all Kleenex Flushable Cleansing Cloths packaging and advertising have always accurately stated where the product is made.

“The Made in Australia website logo was intended only for our Kleenex toilet paper products which are made in Millicent, South Australia,” the spokesperson for Kimberly-Clark said.

“This was an unintentional web publishing error displayed in a static footer of the Kleenex Cottonelle brand website between October 2015 and February 2016, and it was removed as soon as it was brought to our attention.”

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chair Rod Sims said the penalty should remind businesses of their responsibilities  to ensure that representations on their website or packaging about the country of origin are accurate.

“We know many Australian consumers place a premium on goods that are Australian-made,” Sims said.

“This penalty should remind businesses of their responsibilities to ensure that representations on their website or packaging about the country of origin are accurate, so that consumers can make informed purchasing decisions.”

The penalty is separate to the ACCC’s case last year against Kimberly-Clark, which related to claims made about its Kleenex Cottonelle ‘flushable’ wipes.

The ACCC had alleged that in representing its products as ‘flushable’ on product packaging and its website, Kimberly-Clark had misled consumers about the suitability of its wipes to be flushed down the toilet. In June, the court found Kimberly-Clark’s ‘flushable’ claims were not false or misleading.

“This matter is separate to last year’s unanimous decision by the Federal Court of Australia that Kleenex Flushable Cleansing Cloths were designed to be, and are suitable to be flushed,” the spokesperson for Kimberly-Clark said.

“The issue has now been tested twice in the Federal Court and on both accounts they were found to be flushable, as clearly stated on packaging.”

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