Wednesday, 23 January 2019 11:42

ACCC forces TomTom, Navman, Garmin to remove advertising ‘lifetime’ claims Featured

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Three manufacturers of consumer GPS navigation products have responded to concerns raised by Australia’s competition watchdog, the ACCC, by agreeing to stop using ‘lifetime’ claims in their advertising of navigation services.

TomTom ANZ, Navman (MiTac Australia) and Garmin Australasia each made lifetime claims in marketing on their websites, on packaging and point-of-sale marketing, and in retailers’ catalogues and websites. Examples of the statements included:

  • TomTom: ‘Lifetime TomTom Traffic’
  • Navman: ‘Lifetime FREE Maps – Never worry about maps again. Updated quarterly, you will always stay up to date with our Lifetime FREE Maps including updates to safety alerts at     no additional cost’, and
  • Garmin: ‘Free Lifetime Maps & Traffic’.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says that despite these statements, TomTom, Navman and Garmin each retained the discretion to stop providing these services before the end of the lifetime of the device in certain circumstances.

The ACCC says it considered these limitations were not communicated to consumers in a prominent way.

“We believe the statements about ‘lifetime’ services made by these GPS manufacturers were inconsistent with what consumers would understand ‘lifetime’ to mean,” ACCC commissioner Sarah Court said.

“Consumers would have rightly expected to receive those services for the lifetime of the device, without the manufacturer being able to unilaterally terminate the commitment.

“Businesses must not deceive or mislead consumers in advertising, whether through small print, or by using ill-defined, broad terms like ‘lifetime’, and they should take care to use terms that match the understanding of consumers.”

“We also encourage consumers to invoke their consumer rights if they believe they have been misled or are not getting what they paid for.”

The ACCC says TomTom, Navman and Garmin, which are three of the bigger GPS manufacturers in Australia, have agreed to amend their statements on all future advertising and marketing materials, including packaging.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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