Benchmark fined for false claims about timber
14 October 1994
Benchmark Building Supplies Ltd and one of its managers today admitted deliberately falsifying timber grades and charging customers for more timber than was supplied.
Benchmark and the Sulphur Point Benchmark Manager, Terrence Wills, pleaded guilty to breaching the Fair Trading Act in the Tauranga District Court. They were prosecuted by the Commerce Commission. The Court imposed fines and costs totalling $6,630.
In June last year Mr Wills told his staff to paint over yellow "grade 2" markings on timber with black "grade 1" markings. Some of the falsely marked timber was sold as grade 1 timber.
Evidence from the Forest Research Institute was that the primary purpose of such timber would have been for use as floor joists.
Floor joists made of grade 2 timber would cause greater movement in the floor. If the joists were placed under considerable strain there would be greater chance of damage occurring.
Mr Wills also admitted that since early 1990 a standard practice at the Tauranga branch of Benchmark had been to sell packets of timber containing 5 percent less than the amount stated on invoices.
Mr Wills said the practice followed from a discussion at a meeting of Benchmark management and a suggestion made by the National Timber Manager.
The National Timber Manager denied making the suggestion and said Mr Wills must have misunderstood the discussion. There was no evidence of other branches over charging for timber.
Mr Wills was fined $1,750 for falsifying timber grades and $3,000 for falsely stating the quantity of timber sold. Benchmark was fined $750 on each charge. Costs of $95 were imposed on each of the four charges.
Media contact:Vince Cholewa, Communications Officer
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