It all started with three steel mesh retailers:
- Brilliance Steel Ltd and Euro Corporation Ltd agreed to stop selling certain steel products following tests that raised questions over whether the products complied with the relevant standard (AS/NZS 4671:2001) – article here.
- Steel and Tube issued test certificates that appeared to be from a lab which had not certified the steel (the steel is tested in-house by S&T) – article here.
The Commerce Commission is investigating both.
Issue 1: Recently Master Plumbers has made calls for the Government to get on board in order to curb the non-regulated building market. Let’s look at this issue. The most important thing is that building products are safe for their intended use and are not going to cause damage. This is the issue that the building code (and other legislation such as Consumer Guarantees Act) seeks to address; the adequacy of which Master Plumbers are asking the Government to reconsider. This raises a number of questions:
- Should builders and tradespeople be checking the quality of products before they use them, if so to what degree?
- Can we trust the quality of products without independent certification?
- What level of certification should be required?
- What are the potential costs of independent certification (as this will almost certainly be passed on to consumers)?
Issue 2: Separately is the potentially misleading statements that were made by Steel and Tube. There has been no specific allegations that the steel in this case was defective but is a wake-up call for companies to check the certifications they have been providing. If misleading statements were made then focus can often shift to whether there has been any loss.
It is hard to predict what outcomes, if any, will flow from the Commerce Commission investigation, or whether the Government will engage around the building product issue. Either way there are some take away points for suppliers and contractors in relation to the quality of products that they supply and the representations they make.