Warranties & consumer rights (ACCC)

Obviously warranties and consumer rights are of considerable interest to all of us on OzBargain. The official source of information is the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), and particularly their booklet Warranties and refunds—a guide for consumers and business.

I don't want to quote too heavily from the booklet because I would urge everyone to read it in full (it's only 23 pages including the covers and index), if not carry it with them when they go shopping ;) Note that there's a freebie - "A printed version of this publication is available at no cost."

A lot of what's in the booklet will come as a surprise to most people; it certainly did for me. But it should be a pleasant surprise, so please do take some time to read the booklet and learn your rights, and commence any discussion in this topic.

Seller responsibilities

Each sale is a contract between the seller and the consumer. So if the seller breaches the contract by providing goods that do not meet a statutory warranty or condition, it is their responsibility to provide a remedy. If a seller has to return goods to a manufacturer for assessment or repair, the seller should arrange delivery.

Because each sale is a contract between the buyer and the seller, consumers are entitled to insist that the seller provide them with a remedy, even if a problem is due to a manufacturer’s fault.

The law also gives consumers the right to pursue a manufacturer or importer for a remedy, even if goods were bought from a retailer. However, manufacturers and importers are not required to issue refunds unless the consumer purchased the goods directly from them – that is, they have a contract of sale with the consumer.

Consumer rights

It is against the law for a seller to do anything that leads consumers to believe their rights are limited, or do not apply – for example, by claiming that no refunds will be given under any circumstances.

For example, signs that state ‘no refunds’ or ‘no refund on sale items’, could lead consumers to believe they have no right to a refund under any circumstances, which is untrue because if a statutory condition has been breached, the consumer may be entitled to a refund.

Policies that set a time limit, such as ‘no refunds after 30 days’, can be misleading because statutory rights have no time limits, other than what is ‘reasonable’.

Similarly, insisting consumers return goods unopened, or in their original packaging may be misleading (as these are not required to claim a remedy under statutory rights).

Time limits

Statutory rights have no set time limit – depending on the price and quality of goods, consumers may be entitled to a remedy after any manufacturers’ or extended warranty has expired.

If a good does not meet a statutory condition or statutory warranty after a consumer has owned it for some time or used it a lot, it is still a breach of contract. However, the consumer may not be entitled to rely upon the right under the Act to cancel or rescind the contract and claim a full refund. In these cases, the consumer may still be entitled to another form of remedy from the seller for the breach of contract […]

Comments

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    Very informative. Perhaps we can include a wiki for this part or something as it may help others as well. Great work mate, great work :D

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      Good idea. For the moment it can remain here - if any additional information comes up in discussion, it can all be ported over to the wiki.

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    ACCC Crackdown On Dodgy Online Warranties (article noted by its_ying):-

    WarrantyVoidAustralia has fairly solid warranty protection laws, and those rules apply just as much to online traders as to old-fashioned retailers. Now the ACCC is planning to rein in sites which have no warranty policy, or one they copied from a rival site without understanding its implications. […]

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    When they talk about "statutory condition / warranties", I assume its referring to the Trade Practices Act (1974) Cth and the relevant state provisions.

    I haven't had a read through the ACCC guidelines but generally, two main rights often arise:

    • Sellers must provide a satisfactory remedy if the goods purchased are not of merchantable quality OR have been advertised in a misleading/ deceptive manner OR are not fit for their proper purpose etc. You are entitled to ask for a full refund in the manner in which you paid if these are breached.

    • Sellers do not have to provide any remedy for a 'change of mind'. These are subject to the seller's conditions of sale which vary per store. Many stores, as a sign of good faith, will provide a exchange or even refund for a change of mind provided the goods are still in resaleable quality.

    So, for example, if you purchased a waterproof camera (by cash) that stuffs up in the water, you have a right to demand a full refund in cash, even if they only offer you store credit. However, the seller can also offer appropriate remedies including sending the camera off to be fixed at their cost.
    - If you didn't use the camera, and no longer want it, provided the store has no conditions stating otherwise, they do not HAVE to offer you any refund, exchange or remedy.

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