The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has raised concerns about consumer guarantee issues following an increase in reports by consumers to the regulator.
These concerns follow an announcement by the ACCC in November last year that put clothing retailers on notice after an online review of numerous returns policies raised concerns of non-compliance with the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). The ACCC’s concerns related to potentially misleading policies regarding a consumer’s right to seek a refund for faulty online products.
Consumer guarantees are automatic guarantees provided for under the ACL when a consumer purchases goods or services. These guarantees are in addition to any express warranty provided for by a business and may apply even after a warranty has expired.
Consumer guarantees include guarantees that:
• Products will do what they are meant to do, be safe, fault free and as described; and
• Services will be provided with appropriate care and skill, be fit for purpose and be delivered within a reasonable timeframe.
Faults with a product or service can be major or minor and this will determine the remedy available to a consumer. Where a fault is considered major, the consumer will have the right to elect a refund, replacement or repair. Where the fault is considered minor, the business can choose which option to offer to the customer.
These guarantees have no specific expiry date and how long they apply for after the date of purchase will depend on a range of factors including the type of product or service, its purpose and use, its reasonable lifetime expectancy and the cost.
The ACCC’s focus on consumer guarantees provides a timely reminder to retailers and service providers to review their returns policies and practices to ensure they are compliant and don’t mislead customers into thinking they have no return rights or that an express warranty is their only remedy.