The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has declared Panasonic Australia misled consumers in its 2008 Bonus Wii promotion.
In orders handed down in Adelaide Federal Court, Justice Mansfield found that Panasonic had engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct.
Panasonic's advertising represented that consumers who purchased a participating television would be eligible to receive a bonus Nintendo Wii gaming console by redemption.
In order to submit a valid redemption claim, consumers required the serial number of the participating television within 14 days of purchase.
In some circumstances, the serial number was only obtainable when the TV was delivered, but there was no guarantee that the consumer would receive the TV within the 14 day purchase period or have sufficient time to submit the redemption.
The court considered that the advertising contained fleeting fine print which was difficult to absorb and failed to convey that matters outside the control of the purchaser could disqualify them from receiving the Wii.
As well as a declaration, the court ordered that Panasonic establish and maintain a trade practices compliance program for three years to ensure staff were aware of their obligations under the Trade Practices Act 1974. Panasonic was also ordered to pay the ACCC's costs.
ACCC chairman, Graeme Samuel, said it was not enough to give the impression that 'conditions apply' to an offer in circumstances where particularly unusual and onerous conditions may render a consumer ineligible to receive the goods or services offered.
This outcome sent a warning about inducing consumers by offering free or bonus goods as 'cash-back' or 'redemption' offers and failing to deliver, the ACCC stated.