Harvey Norman has been penalised $1.25 million by the federal court in Brisbane for misleading advertising.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took legal action after Harvey Norman promoted the sale of 3D televisions in its ‘3D Finals Fever’ catalogue. The catalogue created the misleading and deceptive impression that consumers in all places where the catalogue was distributed could buy and use a 3D television to watch the 2010 AFL and NRL grand finals in 3D format.

However, the 3D broadcast was limited to metropolitan Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. This was even though the catalogue was distributed through Australia including places where there was no 3D broadcast of the football grand finals, including after Harvey Norman became aware that the 3D broadcast would be so limited.

Justice Collier described the act as “seriously misleading and deceptive, on a significant and far-reaching scale.”
Similarly, ACCC chairman Rod Sims welcomed the ruling by the federal court.

“Retailers have a responsibility to ensure that accurate information is given to consumers about the uses and benefits of new and emerging technology, such as 3D television,” he said.

“Harvey Norman knew the facts; it should have got it right, and the Court agreed.”

The Court also found that between October 2008 and July 2011, Harvey Norman made misleading representations about the existence of certain conditions in its catalogue and website advertising.

As a result, the court has restrained Harvey Norman from engaging in similar conduct for a period of three years and requires it to publish corrective notices in regional and metropolitan newspapers and on the Harvey Norman website.