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Case against Shell dismissed

6 September 2010

LATEST:  There was no evidence anyone was actually misled when Shell claimed its petrol was “designed to take you further” despite only increasing efficiency by less than 1 percent, the judge who dismissed the case against the oil company said.

The Commerce Commission had laid 22 charges against Shell, alleging it misled people by giving them the impression they could travel “appreciably further” with Shell’s petrol additive, despite a study showing the additive increased fuel efficiency by an average of only 0.98 percent.

That amounted to an extra 6km for every 650km travelled, or yearly savings of only about $20 if a driver spent an average of $2000 on petrol a year, Wellington District Court was told last month.

The commission argued that the campaign gave “the impression of a significant benefit” to consumers

However, Judge Michael Behrens, in a decision released today, dismissed the charges, saying the evidence did not make him think Shell was guilty.

Shell’s claim was literally true and there was no doubt the petrol was designed to take the motorist further, he said.

It did not compare the petrol against that of other companies and there was some evidence that sales improved around the time of the advertising – Shell’s market share increased 0.54 percent in the months around the advertising campaign – but to make anything of that would be guessing and unfair, he said.

Shell communications manager Shona Geary said the company was pleased with the court’s decision.


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