Two companies have been fined a total of $87,600 and one company has been warned in the latest Commerce Commission product safety cases.
The businesses operated in various locations from Oamaru to Otahuhu and all supplied toys which were unsafe because they did not comply with the product safety Standard for toys for small children.
“These latest enforcement actions show the impact of our ongoing programme of unannounced visits to retailers. Yet again our inspections have turned up toys that simply should not be on shelves because they are not safe for young children. Businesses supplying such toys must know the requirements the law puts on them and they must comply with those requirements, or they risk prosecution and significant penalties,” said the Commission’s General Manager Competition, Antonia Horrocks.
The New Hub Furniture Warehouse Limited (Big Bear)
The New Hub Furniture Warehouse Limited was fined $48,600 in the Manukau District Court on 4 February 2021. It imports goods and retails them through its “Big Bear” shop in Otahuhu, and also exports goods to Fiji and Samoa.
Between October 2015 and January 2020 it supplied 423 units of various toy animals and a toy train. Commission staff purchased examples of the various toys during an unannounced visit in December 2019.
During testing various small pieces came free from the toys, including bits of broken plastic. The small parts could fit in a testing cylinder and were a choking hazard. Four of the five toys were battery operated and batteries either became accessible following drop testing, or the battery compartment could be accessed without a tool.
Four of the five animal toys had “3+” labelling (or similar) but were clearly intended for use by young children.
In sentencing, Judge Wharepouri said the fact that New Hub “may be a small family operation does not excuse it from vigilance” in assessing product safety. It “made no effort to familiarise itself with the Standard” and “completely failed” to make the necessary checks.
New Hub removed the products from sale and recalled them after the Commission’s investigation began.
Y&Y Century Limited (Smart Buy)
Y&Y Century Limited was fined $39,000 in the Christchurch District Court on 16 February after pleading guilty to two charges under the Fair Trading Act 1986.
Y&Y operated three retail shops in Rangiora, Motueka and Oamaru, each trading as “Smart Buy” and selling various low-cost goods including toys.
Between August 2015 and November 2019 it supplied 198 units of two duck toys. Commission staff purchased toys during a programme of unannounced visits to retailers in November 2019.
During testing, a squeaker device came free from the toys. Because of its small size the squeaker was a choking hazard for small children.
Y&Y ceased supplying the duck toys immediately after being notified of the Commission’s investigation, recalled the products and destroyed its remaining stock.
Warning for Galaxy Gifts
The Commission has also issued a warning to Galaxy Gifts Limited of Otahuhu.
It supplied an unknown number of brightly coloured guitar toys which, in the Commission’s view, did not comply with the mandatory standard for children’s toys. During testing, small parts were released from the guitar toy and those parts were a choking hazard. The guitar battery compartment cover did not have a screw and could be opened by hand or came open during drop testing, exposing the batteries.
Galaxy Goods did not recall the products. It has ceased trading.
A warning explains the Commission’s view of the conduct and does not constitute a finding of non-compliance with the Fair Trading Act. Only the Courts can decide whether a breach of the law has occurred.