Australian module suppliers accused of making false claims

The residential solar market in Australia has continued to deliver strong demand, however the reputation of some suppliers may be set to take a hit after an announcement today that the country’s consumer protection commission has issued proceedings against two firms for falsely advertising their products. The ACCC claims that the firms faked customer testimonials and falsely claimed the panels they were selling were made in Australia.

"Consumers should be able to rely on the accuracy of labels, especially when they are prepared to pay a premium for products made in Australia," said ACCC Chairman Rod Sims in announcing the prosecution. "Misleading credence claims can have a significant impact on the competitive process and hurt the local economy."

Another factor not mentioned by Sims is that false claims can also harm the solar industry, where confidence in long-lived modules is a key factor in a customers’ decision-making process.

The ACCC is also taking action against Nikunjkumar Patel, "for being knowingly concerned in, or a party to, the alleged conduct," the statement reads.

"Show me where I wrote the panel is made in Australia," said Patel, in an interview with local newspaper the Sydney Morning Herald. "Within a minute, I would change that if it’s been written by me, my company or my contractor."

Patel then went on to compare his company to Canadian Solar, which manufactures its panels in China, despite being called Canadian.

"The ACCC is seeking declarations that the companies and Patel contravened the ACL (consumer law). It is also seeking injunctions, publication orders, pecuniary penalties and costs," reads the ACCC statement. The case will be heard later this year.