TomTom ANZ, Navman (MiTac Australia) and Garmin Australasia each made lifetime claims in marketing on their websites, on packaging and point-of-sale marketing, and in retailers’ catalogues and websites. Examples of the statements included:
- TomTom: ‘Lifetime TomTom Traffic’
- Navman: ‘Lifetime FREE Maps – Never worry about maps again. Updated quarterly, you will always stay up to date with our Lifetime FREE Maps including updates to safety alerts at no additional cost’, and
- Garmin: ‘Free Lifetime Maps & Traffic’.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says that despite these statements, TomTom, Navman and Garmin each retained the discretion to stop providing these services before the end of the lifetime of the device in certain circumstances.
“We believe the statements about ‘lifetime’ services made by these GPS manufacturers were inconsistent with what consumers would understand ‘lifetime’ to mean,” ACCC commissioner Sarah Court said.
“Consumers would have rightly expected to receive those services for the lifetime of the device, without the manufacturer being able to unilaterally terminate the commitment.
“Businesses must not deceive or mislead consumers in advertising, whether through small print, or by using ill-defined, broad terms like ‘lifetime’, and they should take care to use terms that match the understanding of consumers.”
“We also encourage consumers to invoke their consumer rights if they believe they have been misled or are not getting what they paid for.”
The ACCC says TomTom, Navman and Garmin, which are three of the bigger GPS manufacturers in Australia, have agreed to amend their statements on all future advertising and marketing materials, including packaging.