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Water filtration company fined for misleading -

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Water filtration company fined for misleading customers

The World Today - Tuesday, 5 May , 2009 12:42:00

Reporter: Charlotte Glennie

PETER CAVE: A south-east Queensland water filtration company has been fined $20,000 dollars for
trying to convince Ipswich residents their tap water was carcinogenic.

The Love Springs water filtration company received the fine in the Beenleigh Magistrates Court,
where its director was also fined another $5,000.

Charlotte Glennie reports from Brisbane.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: When Steve Viney opened the door to salesmen trying to interest him in a new
water filter system, the Ipswich truck driver suspected something was wrong.

STEVE VINEY: I got home from work one day.

I got a knock at the door; a couple of young blokes basically, sort of, they made it sound like
they were from Ipswich City Council, said the council had complaints from this area about dirty
water and impurities in it.

I sort of picked it up as being a scam pretty well straight away.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: The specially printed glossy brochure was the give-away.

Inside was at least one graphic photo, which had already come to the attention of local councillor
Paul Tully.

PAUL TULLY: My office started receiving complaints in January that there were teams of young people
in the Ipswich, and as it turned out Logan City areas, selling off water purifiers for about
$1,500.

The complaints were that they were being told and being shown pictures of cancerous breasts and
being told that the recycled water would kill them, could harm their babies and could eventually
cause massive illnesses to people in the community who were basically being flogged water purifiers
which they didn't need.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Councillor Tully says over three months the Love Springs door-to-door
salespeople went to hundreds of Ipswich homes.

And residents like Steve Viney say the devices they were selling weren't cheap.

STEVE VINEY: We worked out there was a rent-to-buy sort of thing, over about 12 months, I think it
worked out to about $1,600 or something, for something you'd go to Kmart or Big W and spend a
couple of hundred dollars on.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: But councillor Tully says a number of people were cowered into buying, fearing
the sales pitch that if they didn't, they'd risk getting cancer or their risk their children
developing deformities.

PAUL TULLY: Well, a lot of people were very concerned about this because there were glossy
photographs and very plausible tales being told by these representatives. And people were signing
up - they were giving them their personal details, their bank account records to sign up for water
purifiers.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: It all happened at a time when community concern was running high about a
proposal by the Queensland Government to add recycled water to the drinking supply if dam levels
got too low.

PAUL TULLY: It was a time when the State Government had just completed the recycling pipeline from
Brisbane to Wivenhoe Dam and there was some concern in the community about recycled water, which
still hasn't been put into the drinking supplies. But this company was cashing in at a time when
there was some fear in the community.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Queensland's Fair Trading Minister Peter Lawlor says Love Springs deliberately
misled customers, committing serious breaches of fair trading law in order to sell their products.

PETER LAWLOR: Well, I think they're completely reprehensible and of course, that's been reflected
by the fine of $20,000 which was imposed on Love Springs in the Beenleigh Magistrate's Court for
misleading Ipswich consumers about the quality of the water supply. And also, the director has
been, had pleaded guilty and was also fined $5,000.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Love Springs is still trading.

It markets itself as one of Australia's leading water filtration companies.

The World Today spoke to a Love Springs employee this morning who said the company's director
wasn't available but he'd ask him to return our call. As yet he hasn't.

PETER CAVE: Charlotte Glennie reporting.