Harvey Norman Stores To Face Court Over Consumer Rights Violations

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.


    Finally! I had a case with ACCC against Harvey Normans when they repaired a faulty laptop in store under my extended warranty. It went into repair four times consecutively, each time I got it back in worse condition than when it left. E.g. I put it in for a few dead pixels, and it comes back with 1/4 of the keyboard not working, and missing keys!!
    Finally I asked for the laptop be replaced brand new as per my warranty; if repaired three times or more without resolve of the problem, they were supposed to replace the entire product. They refused.
    I'm really glad that Harvey Normans is finally getting what they deserve. Whilst I support local brick and mortar stores, I don't appreciate customers being ripped off and bad sale tactics.

    I agree something has to be done, they refused a warranty on my Nexus 4 which developed an intermittent WiFi problem. Not as bad as myer though in that they tried to mention that I have to phone the manufacturer and deal with the warranty even though i brought the item from the store . Wasn't until I mentioned that some major retailers were violating the Australian Consumer Laws then they helped me.

      As an ex-manager of an electronics retail chain (thankfully, not Harvey Norman), this behaviour severely appalls me. We would be directed to handle warranty with a majority of items. There were some exceptions though. What we would often do is if we were directed by our system to tell the customer to contact the vendor, we would often happily call the manufacturer with the customer still in the store AND send it off for them! And you know what? People come back when you put in the duty of care! It's good customer service!

    I had friends that had a problem with their new laptop. When they contacted Harvey Norman they were told that it was nothing to do with them and they should try contact Toshiba. They provided no contact details or any help what so ever. Very bad indeed. I hope now they will start filling their obligations.

      This very thing happened to me years ago with, I THINK it was a Compaq computer? We're talking 7 years possibly at Browns Plains Harvey Norman. The PC screwed up two days after purchase, the dvd rom wouldn't open at all and was told the exact same thing. Turned out that HN was supposed to take the PC back. After arguiing for ages with them we took it back and got a confession from the sales staff that sold it to us when I noticed scuff marks and minor scratches on it, it was a display model I'd been sold, that had obviously been wrecked by people fiddling with it. The model had just been put away a few days before as they had advertised a special on those models. I specifically asked when told it was the last one if it was display stock and they told me no. So after we rang the ombudsman about it we got a refund on the computer, due to being lied to, the pc being damaged etc. But alas, nothing ever happened to them :\

    I purchased a gps from HN. It couldn't find my near cbd street address, nor addresses in a main road adjacent to cbd in Adelaide. Asked for a refund, and told I couldn't have one. Only option was to get it sent to manufacturer for testing. Was that legal?

      not sure what you mean by "couldn't find" most GPS units have difficulty's when driving down streets with tall buildings around due to the buildings interfering with the signal.

    Instead now they just continue to lie to in other ways....just head into store and listen to what they say to novice computer people...or just pretend to be a novice to get the crap they say you must buy.

      As an ex-harvey employee, I can tell you from experience that a lot of the staff aren't aware or made aware of consumer rights and are towing the line. But I don't accept the above accusation that store workers lie to people to get them to buy so called crap. Harvey Norman and similar stores find it very difficult to get very knowledgeable/educated staff and a lot of these staff are fed their info regarding products from company reps and not through training. A lot of it comes down to the franchisee. I know of 1 ex franchisee that had a "no returns" policy, completely illegal.

    That rubbish about pushing you off to the manufacturers (or importers) is actually quite common, and it is rubbish. Your contract is with the store that sold you the goods. If the goods aren't working properly then take it back to where you bought it from. They have to handle the warranty. Your beef is with them. They sold it to you, they made a profit (presumably) and they have to take the risks on warranty. Anything else that's there problem for them to sort out. That's nothing to do with the end user (legally speaking).

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