21 March 2011
In response to the media release issued by the Commerce Commission on the 18th of March 2011, the directors of spazioCasa would like to clarify the following statements made: Origin of Goods: Whilst it is true that spazioCasa's goods are sourced from around the world, including China, spazioCasa has never implied on its website or in printed information that all products were manufactured solely in Italy.
spazioCasa has also never made customers intentionally believe that the non-Italian products were actually Italian. However after the Commerce Commission investigation, it become apparent that two new spazioCasa employees (out of approximately forty nationwide) were mistaken with regard to the origin of a number of products and subsequently claimed that these were Italian made when in fact they were not. spazioCasa admitted that this was unsatisfactory and that it was a breach of the Fair Trading Act but at the same time both parties agreed and concluded that this was not an intentional breach.
Although this was agreed, the Commerce Commission media release implies that spazioCasa knowingly and intentionally misled its customers. This is not correct and in conflict with the settlement. The press release also stated that 60% of all spazioCasa's products were sourced from China. This is also not true. The Commerce Commission infact started its investigation (one and a half years ago), by focusing solely on 'the plumbing range', just one of the many product categories that spazioCasa import. The natural stone, timber flooring and tile product ranges were not included in the investigation. However the Commerce Commission press release seems to suggest that 60% of the entire spazioCasa product range is made in China. This is completely incorrect. As per today, spazioCasa's total product range consists of approximately 70% of genuine Italian made products and 30% of product manufactured in other countries, including China (but still manufactured with Italian inspired design and engineering). The current bathroom , flooring and tile brands supplied exclusively by spazioCasa that are manufactured 100% in Italy include:
Cotto d'Estte, Casalgrande Padana, Versace, Gigacer, Floor Gres , Rex Ceramiche, Sichenia, Blu Italy, ArBlue, Proparq, Remer, Bellosta, Daniel Rubinetterie, Geda, Cielo, Vitruvit, Solmet, Casabath, La Roccia, Ceramiche Nordica, ceramiche Vaccari spazioCasa believes that they have one of the largest ranges of Italian bathroomware and flooring available in New Zealand under one roof. spazioCasa stands behind all their products with guarantees that range from one year to a life time.
Uniqueness of Goods: While spazioCasa believed that it was the exclusive supplier of certain products, it has accepted some of those products were also available at some competitors' stores and this was corrected on its website and merchandising.
Price Guarantee: In a number of brochures and folders spazioCasa made the claim that consumers would not find an equivalent item for less. This statement was never intended to mislead spazioCasa's customers and as soon as this breach of the Fair Trading Act was bought to the attention of the directors, these claims were immediately removed from the website and merchandising. spazioCasa recognizes that this may have misled some customers and the directors of spazioCasa wish to apologise unreservedly if any customers were misled. GST Declaration: All goods are advertised at spazioCasa as excluding GST. On the spazioCasa website good branding practice was not followed and the +GST may not have been displayed or may have been displayed in an obscure manner. However, customers were clearly informed of the GST component before any sale was made.
SpazioCasa was Not Fined or Prosecuted
It is vital to highlight and make the public of New Zealand understand that spazioCasa was not fined or prosecuted by the Commerce Commission.
The reason that spazioCasa and the Commerce Commission were able to settle out of court was due to the understanding that the above were genuine, unintentional mistakes on the part of spazioCasa. It was agreed by both parties that there was no intent to mislead the public of New Zealand, and it is for this reason that spazioCasa received a warning and was not prosecuted and fined by the Commerce Commission.
spazioCasa has fully cooperated with the Commerce Commission, acted immediately to rectify the situation and has continued to comply with all Commerce Commission requests/recommendations from the moment the issues were identified as part of the 'out of court settlement'.
While spazioCasa admits that (because of some of the above reasons highlighted during the investigation) there were breaches of the Fair Trading Act, spazioCasa at the same time strongly disagree that their website and merchandising misled customers about the country of origin. As explained, the wrong statement about the country of origin was only breached by 2 relatively inexperienced employees out of 40 when showrooms were surveyed by the Commerce Commission.
It is for the above reasons that the spazioCasa directors feel that the Commerce Commission press release overstated the facts because it not only implies that spazioCasa was deliberately intending to mislead its customers about the country of origin, but also states that 60% of the entire spazioCasa product range is made in China. Therefore spazioCasa strongly disagrees with the overall content of the press release. The spazioCasa directors feel that it is disappointing that the Commerce Commission only released the press release to spazioCasa's lawyers 45 minutes before it was released to the media. This did not allow enough time for the spazioCasa lawyers and directors to review and identify the implications of the overstatement of facts and discuss this with the Commerce Commission directly.
spazioCasa and its directors feel that it is necessary to clarify the Commerce Commission press release and is continuing to seek legal advice regarding this matter. Once again, if a spazioCasa customer feels that they have been misled in any way, the directors of spazioCasa wish to express their sincerest apologies and wish to encourage the customer to contact their nearest store to discuss the matter further.
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