I Stood up and Asserted My Rights - ACL

Some of you may recall the post 1 year ago here https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/545594
To summarise: I bought a $1,115 powered JBL speaker. The speaker failed after 3.5 years. I paid for the assessment and requested JBL to repair under ACL. They refused.

JBL instead offered to provide the part free of charge but asked me to cover the labour cost.
I disagreed and lodged a VCAT application (it's a small claim court in Victoria). JBL and I had a case conference with a VCAT mediation officer. JBL then agreed to pay for the repair in whole. It's been fixed.

Then another ACL claim.

I bought a Samsung TV at $4,400. After 6.5 years of use, the screen developed an egg-sized bright stuck pixel area, then 2 more similar areas in the centre of the screen.
I contacted Samsung requesting free repair or pro-rata refund under ACL. The same song was sung (no pun intended) - it's 1 year warranty and that's it.
I again had to respectfully point out:
ACL states that "Businesses must provide these automatic guarantees regardless of any other warranties they give to you or sell you." and "Products must be of acceptable quality, that is: safe, lasting, with no faults, look acceptable, do all the things someone would normally expect them to do. Acceptable quality takes into account what would normally be expected for the type of product and cost."
And 6.5 years of a $4.4K TV is not considered acceptable.
The day after I served Samsung with a VCAT notice and my Points of Claim, Samsung called me, sent agents to assess and then fixed the TV in my home, no charge, within 2 days.

My cost to get the speaker fixed was about $145 (assessment fee and VCAT fee) and for the TV was about $70 VCAT fee.

I hope companies like them just get to understand the law of doing business in Australia and comply, rather than spending lots of their staff time and being dragged to court to end up doing the right thing at the end.

Finally a note to the person/persons that said "you know damn well that you're not going to take this to court" - You know damn well now that I did.

Comments

  • +1 vote

    Kudos to you Op!

  • +1 vote

    Hey buddy, respect

  •  

    Buying a $4,400 TV was your first mistake.

  • +3 votes

    Sucks that we still need to get as far as going to a tribunal to assert our rights against these companies rather than them just doing what is required under the law.

    If you do get into an argument with them or end up at a consumer tribunal another good resource can be the ATO's effective life of depreciating assets (https://www.ato.gov.au/law/view/document?docid=TXR/TR20203/N...) and CHOICE's consumer survey on how long appliances should last (https://www.choice.com.au/shopping/consumer-rights-and-advic...). At least this gives you a frame of reference to go from, and maybe to convince a tribunal member with (if these documents back up your assertions!).

    •  

      Any such a list for car?

  • -2 votes

    Out of curiosity what do you guys think of my chance at getting my Lenovo Thinkpad E485 laptop to be repaired by Lenovo for free? I bought the laptop in October 2018, and recently it has experienced regular Blue screen of death (BSOD) failure. I googled the error code and it pointed to hardware failure. I replaced the RAM myself (upgrade from 8GB to 16GB Ram) and reinstalled Windows too but it still has the BSOD regularly. It is out of warranty (2 years) though. Thanks!

  • +2 votes

    Great work OP. How long did this take you all up timewise? I'm thinking to take Apple to VCAT over a 2016 'flexgate' Macbook Pro that they are refusing to refund. Don't mind paying the VCAT fee but the time involved may be limiting.

  • -1 vote

    People still watch TV?

  • +3 votes

    Good on you for pursuing it. My Bose nc headphone developed problem after 2 years, one side dropping sound intermittently. Bose was not budging, only offering a discount on a new one. I bought it from HN, took it there and said my ACL right. They exchanged it right there and l even got the series II.

    I strongly think there should be regular ad campaign in media to remind Australians of this and many other rights and dispute mechanisms we have.

    • +3 votes

      Yep, same thing.

      My Bose headphone died on my as well outside of my warranty period and I was only offered a discount on a new one. I pushed back and said that I would expect a pair of $300-400 headphones to last for more than a year and I would expect to get it repaired or replaced at no cost, else I would lodge a complaint under my state's consumer rights body. Got it replaced for free as well.

  • +7 votes

    I'm in a similar predicament, My folks purchased a Rheem Solar Hot Water System in 2011 sold on 10yr warranty and superior stainless steel tank no anode needed.

    1st tank lasted until 2013 then major leak, Rheem stated to my dad oh no we don't have 10yr warranty upon been shown original receipts clearly written was 10yr warranty, they succumbed and repaired.

    Fast forward too earlier this month booster stopped working, called Rheem not its not a warranty job, but we can send out a technician to look and repair, however you must pay $198 up front otherwise they won't come, which covers call out plus 30 mins work. Then $75 per 30 minutes thereafter plus parts.

    Technician did come few days later yup booster n thermostat buggered, was about to replace when he noticed a large crack in the tank developing with mild leak which he was concerned about so much he shut off water n taped circuit in off position. Helpful fella does a check we are still within 10 year warranty on tank for another 3 weeks, whoo lucky. He rings n confirms, yup free tank but not stainless steel vitreous enamel in WA only, and we will need too pay $698 up front for installation as warranty doesn't include labour, he sympathised with us but said company policy. Gave us a job number and phone number too ring to pay the $698 up front as nothing would happen until paid.

    I rang on my parents behalf and told the phone salesperson my dads 86yrs mums 76yrs n I'm handing it, and thought the 698 and 198 charges were over the top, and advised him of ACL he said not applicable can I have you credit card number, wouldn't discuss ACL anymore. Dad agreed as he needed Hot water asap.

    3 days we hear nothing, 5 days nothing I ring help line and remonstrated at nothing being done only to be told Solarhart are doing their repairs on tanks now, and we're booked for the next day.

    I then started talking about Australian Consumer Law and this new tank will be the 3rd tank in 10yrs even though the warranty is 10yrs you would expect 10yrs, oh no he says that's best situation only , 4yrs is more realistic, he then asks my water quality and why they had stainless steel tank, I said how would I know shouldn't you have checked 1st before recommending and selling dad the system ? No no n Rheem no longer use stainless steel tanks in WA due to poor water quality. I said that's not my folks fault n you have known of WA water quality problems for years. I stated wanted to take further, he refused, stated Solarhart call tomorrow to confirm appointment, as was noted 5 days earlier on their system.

    Anyhow next day we wait at home between 8am n 4pm for new tank to show up they will call just before arrival.

    4pm no one shows up. Next day I ring guy has no idea , will get back to me.

    Solarhart rings n states they'll be out in 5 days to install new tank, I say what happened yesterday you never showed lady says Rheem never booked till this morning , n they sub contract for Rheem they are separate companies albeit owned by same multinational.

    5 days later guys from Solarhart come out on time 40 minutes job done, stated they do all tank changes in WA as Rheem no longer have crane trucks. And was quite scathing of their quality with 80% of their work Rheem tank replacements. Solarhart guys friendly on time and helpful.

    I decided to email my complaint to Rheem after waiting on hold the following Monday for 40 minutes.

    No response, then 4 days later we tried calling no answer, your case has been created you'll hear from us soon (email that response)

    It's now been 7 days n zip nothing back from them.

    I intend to go to WA small claims over this whole debacle as Rheem hasn't I believe followed ACL, my folks are pensioners n $900 for labor is ridiculous you sell something with 10yr warranty you expect it to last n now on 3rd replacement tank within 10yrs.

    Anyone care to jump in am I being unreasonable, what shot do you think I'll have of atleast getting the 900 back.

    BTW new tank comes with warranty for 2 more weeks ( original warranty even though this one is vitreous enamel not stainless steel) after that my folks have to pay 100% of everything if something else goes wrong.

    • -9 votes

      no ones reading this long sob story

      • +2 votes

        Always someone like you on ozbargain

        • +2 votes

          Point of fact I paid the total 900 bux for my folks , no questions ask and that 900 will go to them if refunded their my parents nothing I wouldn't do for them. Not a sob story I just hate companies like rheem n what they do..

          See how long it's been going on listen to this serious but funny clip about rheem. From 1992.

          https://youtu.be/-rRaWNIz73c

          •  

            @Wayne7497: That certainly is a nice gesture for your parents. I didn't think Rheem was this dodgy, they were just wasting your time until you went away.

          •  

            @Wayne7497: funny as but terrible service

    • +2 votes

      Thank you for posting this, I will avoid this terrible company like the plague.

    • +1 vote

      keep following up , this is clearly an ACL issue , it should all be fully replaced for free.

      When you go to small claims court, you will win easily.

      You will only lose if you give up.

      • +2 votes

        Complaint lodged yesterday will follow up with the results

        • +1 vote

          After much back n forth, and very rude emails n phone calls they said NO yesterday, I lodged small claims action same day. Then today as a goodwill gesture the senior manager agreed to refund the 900. I'm happy with that.

  • +1 vote

    Awesome to see an update on these things, nice work OP and congrats on the two wins.
    I guess thats the upside of all of the lockdowns we suffered last year, we had plenty of time for these things!
    Luckily I've had a good run with most appliances and never needed to use VCAT but good to see that it does work.

  • +2 votes

    Good on ya, mate!

  •  

    I know most of you are cheering this on. But cost of returns are factored into the initial pricing of a product. If everyone was able to return an item 6 years after purchasing it, the price of the items will have to increase to accommodate for this. Which is why they make 2 year limits. With the exceptions made for people who have a big whinge about it.

    Companies not wanting to deal with vcat for an old out of date product is not a win, it's a bullying tactic made by the purchaser.

    I look forward to the negs.

    •  

      I agree with this. It's too easy for consumers to bully big companies because it's just not worth the costs and possible negative publicity to fight this even if they are right. I'm all for standing up for rights but not for abusing them to get what you want.

      In my opinion, if you go to VCAT for something like this, you should be required to pay the legal costs of the winner. Otherwise, the side defending the matter really has nothing to gain by engaging because it either costs them to just do what you want or it costs them to defend it.

      • +9 votes

        He paid a $70 VCAT fee.
        Samsung caved immediately because they knew they would lose. You don't think they have teams of lawyers telling them what is likely to happen?
        The idea that a consumer is bullying a $300 Billion multi-national is hilarious.

        • -1 vote

          They did not know they would lose
          it was cheaper to settle it

          This is why we have an "Australia Tax" charged by manufacturers etc
          People (too many people) do crap like this

          •  

            @jimbobaus: The Australia tax is a separate issue. The cost of a product has nothing to do with the price it sells for.

            A flagship mobile phone costs about $300 to produce. Do you think Apple would charge less than it's $2200 RRP if they no longer had to provide 2 year warranty, and only provide 1 year like in the USA?

            •  

              @Shacktool: As someone who worked in the mobile phone industry including 2 major manufacturers i can tell you Consumer Laws in the countries in which they sell is a HUGE part of pricing.

              •  

                @jimbobaus: Hard to argue with your expertise, I still doubt any company will discount something below their estimated profit maximising price.

        • -2 votes

          No it isn't hilarious actually. I work for one of the big 4 banks and we often end up waiving debt if someone raises up enough of a stink, threaten to go to the media etc even if we've done nothing wrong because they can twist the story how they want to the media and the potential reputational damage is worth more than a few thousand dollars to a billion dollar bank.

          And if you think billion dollar companies just have teams of lawyers sitting around advising them on matters of a few hundred dollars, you have never worked for one of these companies in a capacity where you'd be dealing with lawyers. Most likely, no lawyer ever even saw this. Someone is assigned to look after these cases and they made a decision that it wasn't worth the effort or money to engage their lawyers to defend this.

          • +1 vote

            @Astrohawke: ROFL
            What reputation? It was trashed in the Royal Commission.
            Even now these bastions of integrity are bleating about responsible lending laws impacting their vast profits.
            Your lawyers probably don't have time to look at small fry disputes because the bank is too busy screwing over someone for a much larger amount.

            However, if you personally are caught between a fraudulent client and a fraudulent bank then you have my every sympathy.

            •  

              @RecklessMonkeys: You missed my entire point and decided you wanted to vent about banks lmao. Try to look past that and instead focus on what I said about why a big company would not bother fighting this even if they were right.

              • +1 vote

                @Astrohawke: Multiply said small fry by a thousand and it adds up. No CEO would ignore it. If they could win, they would.
                The fact is in most cases, bank or not, it is the consumer that gets done over.

                I put it to you, that you can't see the irony of claiming that a bank is being bullied, when they've ridden roughshod over society to the point of needing a Royal Commission.

                •  

                  @RecklessMonkeys: CEO of billion dollar company doesn't care about these things lol. They gain nothing from winning. Lose = lose money + reputation. Win = lose money defending.

                  I believe in doing the right thing by everyone. If a bank has done wrong by its customers, then it should be held accountable. But whatever wrong has been done should not be an excuse to do wrong back.

                  So no, I don't think it's ironic. You bully me, so that gives me right to bully you back? You steal from me, that gives me right to steal from you? You murder my brother gives me the right to murder your brother too? That's not how it works. Both people deserve to get punished.

                  •  

                    @Astrohawke: Nowhere, did I say that two wrongs make a right.
                    You're conflating that with the power asymmetry that is the status quo.

                    Also, the premise of what you are saying is that the bank has done nothing wrong.
                    You'll have to forgive me if I'm sceptical about that too.
                    I'm sure it does happen.

                    I should be clear that I think there are some very decent people, such as yourself, who are the banks' employees. In my view they are also often the victim of those higher up.

                    You are kidding yourself if you think that a CEO doesn't consider multiple small right-offs.
                    I bet if we looked, we could find a recent class action, or similar dodgy-ness where the CEO policy demonstrates that he is a greedy prick.

                    •  

                      @RecklessMonkeys: In my experience working within a large company that wants to uphold a reputation, no one sets out to deliberately screw over their customers. But a company is made up of individuals and people make mistakes, things get overlooked, old policies and practices don't get updated and that's usually the cause of people getting screwed. It's not the CEO sitting at his deck thinking about how to make policy that makes him money.

                      I'm not a victim because I lose nothing if the bank decides they care more about reputation than losing some money but I'm just letting you know that it's not uncommon for large companies to give in in these sorts of cases and it's not because you were right or deserved it in any way.

                      And no, the CEO does not care about small write-offs. There is someone under the CEO who's responsible for managing budget for each department. That person will give eg. the claims/disputes department an annual budget. All these small individual cases don't mean anything as long as the department is within its budget. And a company like Samsung probably has plenty of room to allow for many many small write-offs like these. Not so much to spend thousands defending each of these cases.

                      •  

                        @Astrohawke: The buck stops with the CEO. If some area is 'under performing' then he should be taking an interest. If someone blows a budget because those terrible consumers are suddenly sticking up for themselves, I guarantee you the CEO will be breathing down their neck.

                        A few seconds ago, the news ran a story of Woolworths allegedly underpaying their managers. This includes $289.

                        Are their employees bullies? No more than a consumer for asking that consumer law be applied. I find it unbelievable that this is somehow an innocent oversight. It's greed.

                        The Fair Work Ombudsman has to sue them for it.
                        The share price fell. Every dollars counts apparently.

                        •  

                          @RecklessMonkeys: Ever heard the saying "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity"?

                          If you really think someone at the top decided they are going to underpay their managers deliberately, I can't do anything to convince you otherwise.

                          •  

                            @Astrohawke: Yes. In fact I used that expression myself the other day.
                            They may not have set out to screw them over – but they're still gonna screw them over.

                            It's a bit of a giveaway.

    • +3 votes

      If everyone was able to return an item 6 years after purchasing it,

      This is only valid if it's a defective product. It's REALLY easy for them, after manufacturing the LEDs to quality test them and reject non-perfect parts. Instead of getting 99% yield rate, they might only get 98% yield.
      As far as I can see, Samsung aren't going to go bankrupt or take a hit from doing proper QA.

      •  

        QA doesn't pick up long term, one off defects. Electronics are fickle, the exact same product on the same line can last for 2 years or 40 years. No way of knowing.

        It's all based on percentages. Manufacturers allow for a calculated percentage of returns within the warranty period and adjust the initial cost of the item based on that. If people demand things to last longer than they warrant for, then prices will have to increase.

        • +1 vote

          Sooo… Sumsung's 1 year warranty on a $4400 telly implies they think it's likely to fail after that? This argument doesn't work either.
          Samsung would be well aware of failure rates of components. Most of their gear is in fact good quality. It's just that they don't want to pay for it when it goes wrong.
          Their TV's probably last ten years. If it's a dud, why is it suddenly the consumer's problem?

  • +1 vote

    I find the "expected" lifetime to be a grey area that doesn't help consumers or companies, causes lots of confusion.

    Perhaps it should be a minimum of 2 years but then companies need to specify their expected lifetime "prominently" when selling the good (retailers and manufactures).

    That way we can compare products on their technical specs and the expected lifetime when we purchase items. So you might be happy to pay bit more for a TV if it has a 6 year life than a similar tv with only 2.

    • +2 votes

      'Expected' lifetime as far as the ACCC is concerned is "how long would a reasonable person expect to use this product before replacing it not for reasons of defectiveness".

      •  

        That is true but the "expected" is very grey and many companies will use it to deny your claim. They know that the % of people that will go to consumer affairs is low and even lower for the people prepared to go the places like the VCAT. So they will keep exploring the grey area until someone (either ACCC or as an industry standard) are forced to put a number to it!

  • +5 votes

    Good job. More consumers need to stand up to this and know their rights.

    The litmus test for how long a product should be warranted by the manufacturer/retailer according to the ACCC is "How long would a reasonable person expect to own that product before replacing it".

    Nobody is buying a new fridge every 2 years, yet manufacturers claim a 2-year warranty. Nobody is buying a new $5k TV every year, despite claims of a 1-year warranty. If I'm paying $5k for a TV, there is no way it should last less than 5 years, and I'd probably say 8. If it's a $700 TV then yeah, maybe 5 years is all I expect from it. But at the high end you expect high build quality. Stand up to these dodgy practices like this and know your consumer rights.

  • +5 votes

    Nice work, I've also had an ACL experience that I came on top.

    I bought the original Surface Pro when they were running them out for around $600 (the Surface Pro 3 had just been released) and within a year the headphone jack stopped working. I went back to Jb Hi Fi and they determined it was a faulty. The employee stated that Microsoft does not fix Surface Pro's, they only replace them but they couldn't replace it since the original Surface Pro had been discontinued. They offered me a refund or store credit and offered me a discount on a Surface Pro 3.

    I refused the store credit/refund and stated that under the ACL if it was a major fault I was able to determine whether I receive a refund/store credit or a replacement. I also stated that according to the ACL if they couldn't replace it with the same model they had to give me an equivalent model to the one I had, a Surface Pro 3. They refused to accept this and then tried to offer me a Surface Pro 2 demo unit from another store at a discounted price, which I also rejected.

    I wrote a lengthy letter to JB Hi Fi outlining my consumer rights. Eventually they got back to me offering me a Surface Pro 3 at no extra cost. On the day I was meant to pick up my Surface Pro 3 they rang me and said they had found a Surface Pro in another state and they would be shipping it to their store.

    When I got the Surface Pro it was clear it was was secondhand, not new as they had stated it was, and it had issues. The Surface Pro had massive overheating issues so I handed it back and finally got my Surface Pro 3.

    • +4 votes

      good work : )

    • +3 votes

      The retailers and manufacturers will try everything to put you off, hoping you will give up or go away. Good that you didn't give up.

  •  

    A few comments saying more people need to stand up / know their rights.

    Its not about standing up nor knowing your rights. Its about whether most people can be bothered or not

    Most are probably well aware if they fight something like this long enough, they'll get a favourable outcome

    But is it worth your time? If you put that energy and effort into something more productive, could you come out with an even more favourable outcome? Like a brand new TV you've earnt by simply working that same amount of time?

    This was most likely not about getting a favourable economic outcome, but more of a principle based on 'winning' and not letting a corporate giant get their way. Ironically, the corporate giant probably never cared whether they win or not, and everyone involved at Samsung would have long forgotten about this situation already. A company as big as Samsung probably destroys several TV's a day internally, just by way of human or manufacturing error. But I'm sure you feel like you've really shown them somehow

    Each to their own. I'd simply use it as an excuse to upgrade to the latest and greatest

    • +1 vote

      upgrade to the latest and greatest

      …with a 1 year warranty.

      The principle is not 'winning' . It's fairness.
      They know that people do not tend to pursue things, and can fob them off with a warranty that no-one reads. No manufacturer warranty trumps consumer law.

      Big companies care very much about refunds. It's less gravy, which is what they're all about.
      They wouldn't be over-joyed to see threads like this either, since they rely on the ignorance of consumers, who apparently go so far as to argue against their own interests.

      We should be thanking the OP, and Sumsung et al should be offering proper warranties.

    •  

      Companies make it deliberately obtuse so people with the mindset bobolo mentioned don't take them to task.

      •  

        You're correct that I wouldn't ask. But not because I'm afraid of the big bad company - its just that the time and mental energy required to do it can be used more productively and get me a better outcome - like a brand new TV I earnt by simply working those hours instead. For me its just a matter of whether its worth fighting or not.

        Plus you also get the excitement of getting a brand new TV.

        •  

          Without consumers insisting on consist quality, your new TV would be more likely to die . You might not feel its worth your time, but you do benefit from people holding companies to account.

  • +5 votes

    Congrats on the win!
    Thanks for raising awareness and sharing.

  •  

    How much is the expected life of a dishwasher according to ACL?

    • +2 votes

      I don't think there is such a list. But there are other sources of information that can back up what a reasonable life time of a product should be - as expected by a normal, average person. For example, this chart from Choice, quoted by @Zondor above: https://www.choice.com.au/-/media/35054a62ba4649a1a80210067b...

  •  

    Thanks for sharing this, good to know. I remember quite a few years ago a friend brought a Panasonic DVR (was approx $300 to $400) and failed after 1.5 years. Panasonic said the warrenty was 1 year and they would not cover the cost to repair it…

  • +2 votes

    So I had a very similar experience with the exact same JBL speaker - Authentics L16. Failed after about 5 years. Initially got the brush off but I persisted, eventually tracking down someone at Harmon Kardon who I could pester. My main argument was that they sold the speaker as a proper hi fi option, not a cheap Bluetooth thing, and I have hi fi gear made in the 1970s still working perfectly while their very expensive speaker died after 5 years.

    After a lot of running around and me asserting my ACL rights and threatening to go the small claims route they relented and repaired the unit. Now working well again. I also involved the retailer who was surprisingly supportive - but they are a hi fi shop, not a bulk electronics retailer.

    • +1 vote

      Wait for trolls. Remember: do not engage.

  • +2 votes

    That's great OP, manufacturers and retailers should be held accountable to the law. Well done for pursuing your rights

  • +6 votes

    I just want to give a big shout out to nickboss for starting this thread as it encouraged me to take action myself.

    In my instance, my Dell laptop had battery failure 4 months out of warranty and upon contacting Dell, received the standard "out of 12 month warranty", parts and service no longer covered etc.

    Citing the information op had posted here, I made my ACL complaint on Wednesday afternoon and informed Dell that I had contacted ACL who would be in touch with them going forward.

    At this point I will file a claim with the ACCC in regards to Dell breaching the Australian Consumer Law, as the law clearly states;
    "Warranties. Under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), automatic consumer guarantees apply to many products and services you buy regardless of any other warranties suppliers sell or give to you"
    Warranties | ACCC

    Late last night I received the following email from Dell.

    Hi ameno,
    Good news!
    After re-escalating again, our escalation team has agreed to proceed with onsite service to replace the system battery.
    Kindly provide your latest full address, thus we will be able to process the onsite service.
    Thanks!

    • +3 votes

      It's amazing how quickly companies change their attitude when you mention the ACL. Great to hear your getting it fixed.

    • +5 votes

      How dare you bully Dell into complying with the law.

      • +1 vote

        Bad, bad case of bullying.

  • +1 vote

    I had an Issue with Amart stating the Couch had a 10y structure warranty, 5 years later the padding fell out and they sent someone out to repack it and fix the cables.

    Then coming up 9 years same issue again called them and they said they wouldn't be fixing it and it must of been a common issue, they offered me $150 store credit and to keep the couch ! I said what am I going to do with a broken ass couch ? so I posted a review on productreview and spent a month writing what happened on their weekly Facebook posts and got a call from a state manager receiving a full store credit.

    So basically don't proudly state a product has 10years warranty and refuse to support/fix it.