Carpetmaker breach Fair Trading Act

Carpetmaker Cavalier Bremworth has been found to have misled customers over a range of synthetic carpets, after a complaint by rival carpet company Godfrey Hirst.

In a just-released High Court judgment, Justice Murray Gilbert rules that Cavalier Bremworth breached the Fair Trading Act in making misleading claims about warranties for its new "Habitat Collection" synthetic carpets.

Godfrey Hirst complained about statements Cavalier Bremworth had made on its website, in a letter to carpet retailers and on stickers on the back of the carpet. It also sought an injunction restraining its competitor from making any similar claims.

Justice Gilbert found that Cavalier Bremworth conveyed the misleading impression on its website that it provided warranties for the Habitat Collection, when in fact they are provided by Invista (Australia) Pty Ltd, the manufacturer of the synthetic yarn the carpet is made of.

It also misled customers on its website, in a letter to carpet retailers, and in stickers on the carpet, by implying the fade-resistance warranty covered fading caused by common household cleaners and cleaning.

Also on its website and in the letter to retailers, it implied that the abrasive-wear warranty covered crushing caused by heavy foot traffic when it did not.

However, Justice Gilbert rejected a range of other claims by Godfrey Hirst, including that the phrase "lifetime stain and soil resistance" implied the warranties would cover staining from any common household or natural substances over its lifetime.

Godfrey Hirst had said that in fact the warranty excluded substances such as non-food or beverage items and foods with strong natural colour.

But the judge said the claim was that the fibres were stain-resistant, not stain-proof, and the information explained that the warranty was limited.

"I do not consider that a prospective purchaser visiting the website could have overlooked all of these matters," he said.

He also refused to grant the general injunction, saying it was not necessary because Cavalier Bremworth had promptly corrected the statements when they were drawn to its attention.

But the company had not made changes to the wording on the stickers which implied the fade-resistance warranty covered cleaning. He put in place a permanent injunction preventing Cavalier Bremworth from putting out anything which conveyed that meaning in the future.