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Infinity and Olsent cable recall – information for consumers

The ACCC has renewed its call for electricians and builders to replace non-compliant Infinity cable. Read about the renewal here.

Electrical retailers and wholesalers across Australia have recalled Infinity brand electrical cables because of the risk they may cause fire or electric shock.

The recall relates to all sizes and configurations of TPS and Orange Round Infinity mains power cables. Olsent brand power cables sourced from Infinity Cable Co Pty Ltd are also included.

Testing has found the cable has poor quality insulation that will deteriorate prematurely and could cause fires or electric shock.

The cables were sold in Victoria between 2012 and 2013 through Masters Home Improvement, Home Timber & Hardware, Plants Plus, Thrifty-Link Hardware, Mitre 10, Go Electrical and six smaller Victorian retailers.

There is no immediate danger to Victorian householders but the cable needs to be replaced or rectification works undertaken to ensure long-term electrical safety.

Electricians who have used the cable will contact affected customers.

Cable suppliers that are recalling the product are required to meet the cost of the rectification works.

If you are concerned, phone your electrician to ask if the cable was used in your home.

DON’T ATTEMPT TO INSPECT THE CABLE YOURSELF

All affected cable installed in accessible areas or near heat sources must be removed and replaced, while inaccessible cable can be left in the installation if that circuit is protected by a residual current device (safety switch). In those cases a warning label must be affixed to the switchboard.

If you have safety concerns, you can phone ESV on 03 9203 9700.

FAQs about the Infinity and Olsent cable recall

What cables have been recalled?

All sizes and configurations of TPS and Orange Round mains power cables sourced from Infinity Cable Co Pty Ltd and supplied under ‘INFINITY’ and ‘OLSENT’ brands are affected.

The cable is labelled ‘INFINITY’ or ‘OLSENT’ at 1m intervals.

Not all ‘OLSENT’ branded cable was sourced from Infinity Cable Co Pty Ltd. Masters Home Improvement can arrange for a visual inspection of ‘OLSENT’ cable to determine whether the cable is affected by this recall. You can find further details about the recall here.

Why have the cables been recalled?

The cables do not comply with the ageing requirements of the electrical safety standard, AS/NZS 5000, and expert advice is that they may become prematurely brittle and break if disturbed, exposing the internal conductors and potentially causing electrical shock or fires.

Is all communication and power cable from Infinity Cable Co Pty Ltd a problem?

The recalls apply to all sizes and configurations of TPS and Orange Round mains power cables sourced from Infinity Cable Co Pty Ltd and supplied under ‘INFINITY’ and ‘OLSENT’ brands.

What are the risks?

Tests have shown that the cable insulation may become prematurely brittle, which could cause fires or electric shock if the cables were then disturbed, such as by human or animal activity. While the risk is not imminent, people need to be aware and take careful steps to manage the risk in coming years.

Has any of the cable failed yet?

There have been no reports of failure yet and the taskforce is satisfied that the risk is not imminent. However, people need to be aware and take careful steps to manage the risk in coming years.

When exactly will the cable become brittle and the risk develop?

All cables age at different rates subject to ambient temperature and the load placed on them.
Current expert advice is this cable may become brittle from 2016 onwards, and suppliers have been asked to assess and work on the oldest and oldest and/or highest risk installations first as far as possible.

Who supplied the Infinity Cable?

While Infinity Cable Co Pty Ltd (in liquidation) was the importer, the cables were supplied to a range of wholesalers, retailers and ultimately to consumers, commonly being supplied by electricians during wiring and appliance installations.

Why has there been an expanded recall?

The importer, Infinity Cable Co Pty Ltd, first recalled some of the Infinity and Olsent cable in August 2013. After further tests and negotiations led by NSW Fair Trading, Infinity Cable Co Pty Ltd went into liquidation and a mandatory recall in NSW followed in October 2013. State and Territory government agencies across Australia then acted to halt the supply and installation of all of these cables. However, the previous recall actions did not address the safety of all of the installed cables. The latest recall actions are designed to address the safety of all of the affected installed cables across Australia, and to prevent these cables from causing electric shocks or fires in the future.

How did it get to be supplied in the first place?

Electrical safety regulation is managed under state and territory legislation and the intensity of pre-market verification is risk based. The first samples of cable being offered by the importer, Infinity Cable Co Pty Ltd, were supported by accredited testing certification. Subsequent testing by regulators identified the safety issue.

Does all the cable need to be removed and replaced under the recall?

No – this is a safety recall which requires:

  • removal and replacement in accessible areas such as roof spaces and under flooring, unless it is in appropriate conduit
  • removal and replacement of cable installed close to heat sources
  • cable left installed in appropriate cable conduit or in inaccessible wall spaces to have an appropriate electrical safety switch, and
  • any premises with cable left installed to have an appropriate warning label affixed to electrical metering/switch box.

If the cable gets brittle isn’t it dangerous to leave cable in conduit or in wall spaces?

All cable insulation gets more brittle with age. Without physical disturbance this cable is no different than other older cable that is still in service.

Why isn’t the recall being taken by the importer?

The cable was imported into Australia by Infinity Cable Co Pty Ltd. That company is now in liquidation, so payments of money and disposal of other assets must be managed according to the provisions of the Corporations Act. When a company is in liquidation those provisions guide the liquidator not to incur any expense in relation to the winding up of a company unless funds are available. This means when there are little or no funds, the company in liquidation is not necessarily expected to take steps in response to any recall notice.

How do I check if the recalled cables are installed in my house?

Don’t attempt to inspect cables yourself. If you have had electrical wiring work carried out on your home or business in 2010-2013 (in NSW), 2011-2013 (in ACT), 2012-2013 (in VIC, QLD, SA and WA) and in 2013 (in Tas) you need to contact your electrician to check if recalled Infinity electrical cables were used. If you are unsure who did the original electrical work, talk to your builder. If you don’t know who the builder was, and are unsure if Infinity cables were installed, ask a licensed electrician to inspect your wiring.

Do I have to pay an electrician to inspect my house and business?

If you want your wiring inspected, the cable supplier should be given the first opportunity to organize this. If you are uncertain who the cable supplier was, you can arrange for a licensed electrical contractor to inspect your wiring. Inspection costs are not recoverable from cable suppliers if Infinity or Infinity-sourced Olsent cable was not installed or if the cable supplier cannot be determined. We recommend you mention that you want a safety inspection for Infinity cable, as industry associations have been asking their members to prioritise safety inspections for consumers.

If a safety inspection reveals Infinity cable, the costs of inspection are expected to be met by the supplier as part of the recall. If you don’t have any of the cable you will have to meet the costs of inspection yourself. Suppliers and builders may have preferred electricians, so if you know your builder or supplier, contacting them could lead to reducing the costs of inspection.

What if the recalled cables are installed in my house from work done by an electrician? Who pays to get it fixed?

Speak with your builder or electrician to discuss how the cable installations can be rendered safe. If an electrician supplied and installed Infinity cables in your home, then you are entitled to ask the person to arrange for you to receive a remedy from one of the cable suppliers undertaking a recall.

If your electrician does not know who the cable supplier was, you are still entitled to ask the person to fix the problem under the consumer guarantees of the Australian Consumer Law. While it depends on the circumstances, consumers may be entitled to a remedy including a repair, replacement or refund.

If there are problems, you may also wish to contact your local electrical regulator (see list above) about safety issues, or contact your local state or territory consumer protection agency (see list above) about your rights under the Australian Consumer Law.

Why isn’t the original electrician doing the work?

During recall negotiations with suppliers they asked to be able to use their preferred electrical contractors.

The electrician tells me he will do the work required under the safety recall but not replace all of the cable, only the accessible cable. Can the electrician be made to do all the work at the same time?

The wider consumer guarantees provide a mechanism for consumers to address quality issues that don’t need to be covered by the safety recall of Infinity or Olsent branded cable. If the building owners wish they can seek further remedies relating to compliance concerns through building or electrical safety regulations that apply in their state or territory. For further information about how to proceed on quality issues that might be covered by Consumer Guarantees, contact Consumer Affairs on 1300 558 181.

What if I don’t have an invoice or I can’t locate or remember the original electrician? Who pays to have my house inspected and fixed?

If a safety inspection reveals Infinity cable, some of the costs of inspection may be met under the recall, if you can also determine which cable supplier it came from. If you can’t locate the original electrician, speak to your local state or territory consumer protection agency (see list above). If you don’t have any of the cable, you will have to meet the costs of inspection.

I have just purchased the property so who pays to have my house inspected and fixed?

If a safety inspection reveals the presence of Infinity cable, some of the costs of inspection may be met under the recall if you can also determine which cable supplier it came from. If you don’t have any of the cable, you will have to meet the costs of inspection yourself.

My electrician tells me the cable supplier they used does not appear on the ACCC website or on the website of the local fair trading regulator. Who can assist me to understand my rights?

Please phone Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 558 181.

How much does it cost to get the cables replaced?

This recall is intended to replace all Infinity cable that is accessible (e.g. in a roof space and not in a protective conduit) or installed near a heat source such as a heater, halogen lighting or hot water system. Other cable will remain installed under the safety recall.

The cost of replacing cables depends on a case-by-case basis. If you are not covered under this recall, the ACCC recommends getting quotes from licensed electrical contractors. You can find licensed electrical contractors on the internet, in the phone book or through industry associations. Your electrical safety regulator may also keep an internet register of electricians licenced in your state or territory.

I am renting, what do I need to do?

If building work involving electrical wiring has been done in a relevant period when Infinity cable was supplied in your state or territory, speak to your landlord or managing agent. You can also do this if you’re unsure whether any electrical work was done.

I live in an apartment block with a high turnover of tenants. How are we supposed to know what electrical wiring work has been done?

You should speak to your landlord or managing agent.

My electrician is busy with other jobs. Does the person have to replace the cables within a certain time?

The taskforce has developed this recall to be conducted over a number of months. For some suppliers, this could take a couple of years depending on the number of affected customers and the availability of electrical tradespeople. As the degradation of cable insulation is related to elapsed time and heat exposure, suppliers have been asked to assess and work on the oldest and/or highest risk installations first as far as possible.

Someone knocked on my door offering to inspect my house for free. What should I do?

Be cautious of ‘free’ offers to inspect cables and make sure the person inspecting cables is a licensed electrician who is trained to identify Infinity cables. You can find licensed electricians on the internet, in the phone book or through industry associations. Your electrical safety regulator may also keep an internet register of electricians licenced in your state or territory. You have rights under the Australian Consumer Law when dealing with sales representatives such as door-to-door sales people, including the right to say ‘no’ and a ten- day cooling off period.

Further information is available here.