Asahi Solar ordered to halt ‘persistent’ sales practices

The Ministry of International Trade and Industry and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government on May 22 ordered Asahi Solar Co. of Oita, a leading maker of solar water heaters, to halt its aggressive home-call sales tactics, authorities said.

It is the fifth such administrative measure taken by MITI under the Home Call Sales Law, they said. MITI has investigated 13 complaints from consumers about “persistent” sales practices by Asahi Solar salesmen filed at public living and consumer centers across the country, they said. As a result, MITI has concluded that Asahi Solar violated the Home Call Sales Law by pressuring consumers or providing them with false information about its home call sales contracts, they said.

Asahi Solar has grown rapidly since its foundation in 1983 by marketing solar water heaters and 24-hour bath systems through home call sales. But complaints from consumers about the company’s sales methods and contracts have increased rapidly since around 1992 in all parts of the country, and the number of such complaints topped 1,000 in 1995.

The National Living Center has repeatedly instructed the company to alter its sales practices, but as complaints continued to flow in the center made the company’s name public and cautioned consumers on April 10 this year under the National Living Center Law. MITI said it would take stricter measures, such as ordering the firm to suspend business, if it refuses to comply.