The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has re-instituted legal proceedings against nine Harvey Norman franchisees for misleading consumers about their rights. The nine stores, based in Queensland, Victoria, NSW and WA, are accused of a range of infringements, including telling customers they were not obligated to provide remedies for faulty products.
Following similar action against Harvey Norman's NSW Gordon Superstore last year, the ACCC has instituted new separate proceedings against nine franchisees for allegedly misrepresenting consumer rights.
The nine stores that are to face court are Avitalb Pty Limited (Albany, Western Australia), Bunavit Pty Limited (Bundall, Queensland), Camavit Pty Limited (Campbelltown, New South Wales), HP Superstore Pty Limited (Hoppers Crossing, Victoria), Launceston Superstore (Launceston, Tasmania), Mandurvit Pty Limited (Mandurah, Western Australia), Moonah Superstore Pty Limited (Moonah, Tasmania), Oxteha Pty Limited (Oxley, Queensland) and Salecomp Pty Limited (Sale, Victoria).
The nine stores are alleged to have misrepresented consumer rights in different ways. Examples of the misrepresentations include representations that:
- the franchisee had no obligation to provide remedies for damaged goods unless notified within a specific period of time such as 24 hours or 14 days
- the franchisee had no obligation to provide remedies for goods still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty
- consumers must pay a fee for the repair and return of faulty products
The ACCC is seeking court orders including penalties, declarations, injunctions and costs against each of the nine franchisees.
“Consumers have rights to certain remedies from retailers and manufacturers when goods fail to comply with the consumer guarantee provisions, including that goods are of acceptable quality and fit for the purpose for which they were sold," ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement. "These rights cannot be excluded, restricted or modified."
It's sad but unsurprising that so many retail stores attempt to deceive customers about their rights — simply because they can usually get away with it. According to a recent ACCC study, only 10 per cent of consumers are fully aware of their rights. But consumer ignorance is hardly an excuse for disregarding the law.
You can read an overview of Australia's consumer protection laws here.
Have you ever run into resistance when trying to return a faulty product at retail? If so, how did you resolve it? Share your stories in the comments section below.