ACCC washes its hands of dunny dryers case


Australia’s business regulator says it will take no action on a complaint made against the manufacturers of hot-air hand dryers used in male public toilets.

In May this year Brisbane man Gus Crotum (pictured) lodged a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission citing 637 instances over three months when a hot-air dryer in a male public toilet did not work.

“For years I have been using public dunnies to have a leak or, on the odd occasion, drop a few bombs on Baghdad,” Mr Crotum told The Bug.

“Previously these so-called ‘conveniences’ had dispensers on their walls offering paper towels for drying your hands after you washed them. We can all remember the bin overflowing with the crumpled sheets.

“But because of concerns about cutting trees down, they then brought in those ‘endless’ cloth dispensers; you know, the ones on a loop that started out whitish and smelled of disinfectant and were black and just smelly by the end of a day, especially when really tall blokes thought that was where you wiped your arse. Foreign visitors, mainly. Tall Scandinavians,  I believe.

“Now, of course,  almost every male toilet has an electric-powered air blower.  I’m told these hot-air dryers were never a permanent feature in female loos after too many women tried to dry their, you know, lady bits on them. Foreign visitors, mainly. Tall Scandinavians,  I believe.

“The trouble is the hot hair hand dryers invariably don’t work. I can’t count the times I’ve spent standing in front of one hitting its big round button to no effect, or madly waving my hands underneath its nozzle waiting in vain for it to start.

“I got so fed up that I decided I would start counting and I began keeping records of when and where one of those useless machines didn’t work.

“Not only that, I started to investigate the machines myself and was shocked at what I found. As I suspected, all of these machines are just a shell with no heater or fan and are not even connected to the power supply. They are just a branded metal shell fixed to a wall for show.

“In addition, research I undertook found that one major overseas supplier of the machines even markets a model with a permanent ‘out of order’ sign attached.

“After I found all this, I lodged a complaint with the ACCC because I figured it was a consumer issue. If someone offers you the use of a product or service, like a hand dryer, and it doesn’t work they should be held accountable.”

Mr Crotum said he was bewildered when the ACCC responded to his complaint saying no action would be taken.

“I really don’t know what my next step might be,” he said. “Aren’t there consumer laws about products being fit for purpose and items meeting reasonable expectations of consumers?”

A spokesperson for the ACCC told The Bug Mr Crotum’s case was closed and would not be revisited.

The Bug asked the spokesperson if the commission’s decision was influenced by the fact the air blowers were offered as a free service in public toilets and because consumers like Mr Crotum did not pay, they could not claim they had been misled or sustained any form of loss.

“No, that’s not it,” the spokesperson said, “we just couldn’t give a shit.”