85% Of Electronics Retailers Ignore Australian Consumer Law: CHOICE

85% Of Electronics Retailers Ignore Australian Consumer Law: CHOICE

The vast majority of staff at Australia’s major electronics retailers are pretty clueless when it comes to consumer rights, according to a new investigation by CHOICE. The consumer watchdog discovered widespread violations of Australian consumer law across 85 per cent of Harvey Norman, The Good Guys and JB Hi-Fi stores around the country.

During its investigation, CHOICE visited 80 Harvey Norman, The Good Guys and JB Hi-Fi stores across all Australian states and territories while posing as regular customers inquiring about the return of big ticket items. A whopping 85 per cent of sales staff were found to have limited or no understanding of their obligations under Australian consumer law.

In addition, every staff member that CHOICE spoke to attempted to sell an extended warranty, despite the fact that Australian retailers can’t impose an arbitrary period on when warranty support is available — instead, goods are expected to operate for a reasonable length of time.

Salespeople also downplayed the store’s responsibility should a big ticket item cease to function after the manufacturer’s one-year warranty period, claiming that any repair and returns would be out of the store’s hands.

“The advice given by major electronics retailers flies in the face of the ACL,” CHOICE said in a statement. “The fact that 85% of sales staff got it wrong and 100% offered an extended warranty is very concerning. Consumers need to be wary of warranty advice they are given in-store.

“Consumers should not be fooled into purchasing extended warranties they don’t need and we’d like to see the ACCC and fair trading bodies investigate these breaches.”

If we were one of these retailers, it would be time to start sweating: the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recently fined HP $3 million for misleading consumers over their warranty rights.

CHOICE also released the following tips and facts to help educate consumers about their right to a refund:

  • If a product is not of acceptable quality the retailer can’t charge you for fixing it.
  • Retailers can’t just refer you to the manufacturer. They’re obliged to resolve your issue.
  • If the problem is ‘major’, you can ask for a refund or replacement rather than a repair.
  • You should be informed if a replacement is second-hand or if they’ve used refurbished parts to repair it.
  • Repairs must be made within a reasonable time. Mobile phones and fridges, for instance, must be given high priority, or you can demand a replacement.
  • You don’t have to return a product in its original packaging, and if you’ve lost your receipt you can use the following as proof of purchase: a credit card statement that itemises goods, a confirmation or receipt number for a phone or internet transaction, a warranty card showing the date, price and place of purchase; or the serial or production number if it’s stored on the retailer’s computer.
  • [clear] [clear] You can find out more about Australia’s current consumer laws via our ACL guide.

    See also: A Guide To The New Australian Consumer Protection Laws | Shonky Awards 2013: CHOICE Shames The Worst Products Of The Year | Ask LH: Can Apple Refuse To Deal With A Customer Complaint Without An Appointment?


  • Before anyone hates on the sales staff, I’d like to point out that for a lot of them, their misinformed nature and efforts to sell extended warranties is not necessarily their own prerogative. The franchises in question typically neglect to train them about consumer rights and aggressively encourage them to chase warranty KPIs. I worked at one for several years before I learned about these consumer rights from a customer. Even after a big deal was made about it, sales policies continued as usual.

    • Agreed. The CHOICE report insinuated that sales staff may have “wilfully flouted” consumer protections but I left that bit out as it’s altogether more likely that they simply aren’t trained on ACL matters.

    • +1 again. All the training is about getting additional items in the basket and additional money into the store. There’s nothing about what rights a customer has, so the staff are basically left to their own preconceptions and old store policies they may have picked up along the way.

      In all seriousness, I have carried a copy of the relevant parts of the ACL with me just in case I need to use it on the couple of occasions I’ve needed a refund/replacement. Fortunately getting a manager or supervisor to just approve it gets me what I want. But I know from firsthand experience that the manager isn’t saying to the floor staff “the consumer does have rights, so we have to do this”. Rather they’re saying “bloody consumers, just do it and get them outta here” as though the faulty product was the consumer’s fault. I’m guilty of thinking this way myself, although I got out of it before the ACL clarified the retailer’s responsibilities.

      • I worked at a place, that shall not be named, that consistently tried to force us to manipulate customers into believing consumer law was somewhat different. At the same time, they delivered training to us, that placed the onus on us to get consumer facts correct. The Training implied that if we were caught misleading consumers, we would be hung out to dry. And of course management would continue to force us to walk a very thin grey area in dealing with customers. I imagine it is the same everywhere.

          • Probably because such a place may have forced him to sign an employment contract forbidding him to talk about the business online in any way that could be construed as negative or indiscreet lest he opens himself up to being sued. I had to at one of my previous retail employs and even though I no longer work there, I’m sure it’s one of those terrible clauses designed to follow you out of your job.

      • just curious

        if the managers dont help or accept

        what is the next steps you can do? complain to head office? is there a ACCC channel to file a complaint to?

        • Next step is to pull out the copy of the ACL, then clearly and calmly point out the particular sections that apply using your “Outside Voice”. No need to get emotional and cause a scene, just ensure the staff and any nearby customers are made aware of exactly what consumer laws they are ignoring.

          State Fair Trading regulators do their best, but I’ve never had to even take the ACL step. Yet.

    • The only reason why I know about consumer rights and law in Australia is because of a VET Retail course I did in high school, otherwise you’re given no training on it at all and you’re pretty much encouraged to continue to play dumb.

  • As someone that has worked for a number of retailers i can confirm that a contributor for selling extended warranties is that they play a big role in sales commissions. Due to the low cost to the business involved in offering this to its clients they are able to offer much higher margins of commission to their staff for the sale of these warranties.

    • Agreed. As a former employee of one of the above retailers, the profit for us on the extended warranties were far greater than the products. In fact it wasn’t uncommon to sell a item at cost or below just to get a warranty.

  • simple fix
    make warranties based on $$ figures
    Under $100 3 Month
    $100-500 6 months
    $500-$1000 12 Months
    $1000-$3000 2 Years
    $3000+ 3 Years Minimum

    This would be a fairer system for all and easy to understand.

    • $ based warranty doesn’t work.

      If I bought a $99 toaster, I’d want much more than 3 months warranty on it, however if I bought a $99 dishwasher then it wouldn’t be unreasonable.

        • What a load of shit, that is by far the worst and most imbecilic system i have ever seen.

          Its horrendous, if i buy a$1000 mattress it better last more than 2 years. If i buy a $800 washer and it last 12 months that is equally absurd. Just as it would be if i bought a $100 keyboard or mouse, portable HDD or USB for a 3 month warranty.

          I can not overstate how awful Moo’s “simple fix” is, it defies actual belief.

          • I didn’t say it was simple. I said it is better than the current situation. I think that these should be minimum warranty periods. I’d expect bed manufacturers to offer more.

      • You want “much more” than a 3 year warranty on a $100 item? Granted that toasters don’t break often.. But at the same time, 3 years is a pretty decent stint for a toaster to work lol..

        • My family’s Sunbeam toaster worked well for 15 years or so. The near identically styled ones from later years were lucky to last 2.

          • We’ve got a Sunbeam toaster here at work that the boss brought in that’s quite old, and we had the same type at home when I was little (I think we still have it somewhere, but it got swapped for a 4 slice about 10 years ago). I believe both are around the same age, and would be well over 20 years old.
            They just don’t make stuff like they used to, and customers wanting “better” prices is driving the quality right down to rubbish across a number of industries.

    • Great suggestion, but the problem is it would just be too easy. There should be cleat legislation, not the wishi-washy one we currently have

    • If I buy a brick, it’s probably individually worth less than a dollar, but it it doesn’t last more than three months I would be VERY disappointed. Likewise a hardcover book. 12 months for a $700 washing machine I would also regard as inadequate.

      The current scheme (where an item is warranted for as long as it can reasonably be expected to last) is much more sensible.

      Extended warranties have their place, but that place is to extend cover out beyond what might be considered “Reasonable” for that item. For example, warranting a laptop out to ten years rather than the three years or so I would expect it to last.

      Of course they’re never, ever used that way. Essentially all they do is make explicit the guarantees of consumer law.

  • Personally, I think it’s all down to the consumer and their expectations.
    Along with the whole, “it costs $XXX, so should last xxx years” That’s just daft.

    Just because something costs say $3000 doesn’t automatically mean it should last any longer than a $500 version.
    The $3000 unit would just have more bells and whistles as it were and It should certainly be less troublesome over the same period, but that’s all.
    If I buy say a $2000 telly and the manufacturer states a 12 month warranty, then i accept that my $2000 purchase is “good” for that period. Why would / should I expect any different.

    However, if one manufacturer is telling me they have a 24 month warranty on the same / similar item, then I’m far more likely to buy theirs instead.
    No need to be buying extended warranties (THE biggest rort in the retail industry) or arguing that just because “I paid $xxx, it should last longer than that”.
    Remember the manufacturer already told you what the warranty is and how long they expect it should last.
    If you don’t think 12 months is long enough for that $3000 telly, don’t buy the bloody thing.

    If the extended warranty companies were all shut down, then the manufacturers would have to lift their game if they want people to buy their products, and increase their own warranty periods. Thus negating all the frustrations people go through because they think their idea of how long something should last is nothing like what the manufacturers themselves are saying it will.

    For some reason, too many people ignore what the manufacturer is already telling them with their warranty policies.

    • You could not be more wrong.

      If I buy a $3k fridge over a $500 it most certainly does automatically mean it will last longer, which is how the system works because it is expected to.

      If in this scenario a company really did only offer a 12 month warranty on the $3000 fridge and it broke down after 3 years, you would easily be able to get it repaired under consumer law. Fridges are not throw away items and are expected to last a considerable amount of time, the same goes for tvs and most large appliances.

      Things are made to fit a purpose, the price you pay resembles the quality of a product.

      • @kingspud!
        ” If I buy a $3k fridge over a $500 it most certainly does automatically mean it will last longer, which is how the system works because it is expected to. ”

        Well then you can be one of those poor frustrated sods who have higher expectations from manufacturing than is really feasible unless everything is hand made. By yourself.

        Like I said. Consumer expectation is way out of touch with the realities of modern manufacturing.
        Have fun getting all frustrated with the retailers and trying to complain to ACCC about it.

        Me, I’ll just buy what I think is actually worth the money in the first place.
        Guess who lives a happier life!

        • The great thing about “reasonable” is that it’s subjective and changes over time and circumstance. Are you saying it’s reasonable to expect a brand-name TV to last only 12 months? Or a phone to only last 2 years? You’re entitled to your opinion of course, but I think you’ll find that the ACCC and most of the population would find it reasonable to expect such items to last significantly longer under normal use conditions.

          How do you determine “what’s worth the money”? For me, $1500 for a TV was only worth the money if I could expect to get at least 5 years out of it.

        • No i will be one of the few people who knows his damn rights.

          EVERYTHING is relative, if I pay $400 for a tv that is subjective. If its a decent picture 60 inch plasma (no bells and whistles) I can assume its not made very well and shouldn’t expect it to last more than 3 odd years.

          If I pay $400 for a 27 inch (no bells and whistles), I can assume the opposite. That it should be well made and last alot longer easily 5+ years.

          This is why reasonable is subjective. There is ONE singular reason companies put shitty warranties on most goods and that is because idiots let them get away with it. IF a company puts a 12 month warrant on an item that should last 5 years the vast majority will see its out of warranty and get pissed and not do anything about it, loss for them and double winner for the company.
          The rest of us that know our rights will tell them to fix it and when they don’t, get the ACCC involved. That is still a Win for them because they already budgeted that x amount would fail before the real shelf life and a win for the customer too.

    • Remember the manufacturer already told you what the warranty is and how long they expect it should last.

      But that assumes they made an honest evaluation of the life span of the product. Realistically it’s just the minimum they think you’ll accept before going to another brand or spark a class action lawsuit.
      All you end up doing is letting the manufacturer dodge responsibility by dictating their own terms. If you let them do that then suddenly every fridge comes with a 2 week warranty and if you don’t like that your only option is to not buy a fridge.

      • No DM.
        You’re missing the point.
        ” If you let them do that then suddenly every fridge comes with a 2 week warranty ”
        You’re forgetting the basic principle of competition.
        If a manufacturer only offers two weeks, another one will offer three to get your custom.
        And so on and so on.

        • By that logic shouldn’t I be able to walk into Harvey Norman and pick up a fridge with an infinity +1 +1 +1 warranty? It’s true to an extent, I doubt it’d get as extreme as 2 weeks, but it has a way of settling lower rather than higher.
          It also falls apart a little when these manufacturers aren’t interested in making these products with appropriate lifespans. Nobody wants to sell you a fridge that lasts 10 years or a car that lasts 6 years, but they still want to charge you as though those products did. So you end up with a situation where nobody offers more than two years (or the more appealingly phrased twenty four months) on items they’re charging five year prices for.
          In those cases we deserve some sort of standards that force them to live up to minimum expectations. If they want to sell a fridge with a 6 month warranty they should be allowed to provided they clearly advertise it as a disposable fridge. If people actually are fine with short life span products and they’re not being duped, then it shouldn’t matter if they write ‘we cover it for 6 months, you’re rolling the dice if you want it for 12, but it’ll definitely be dead in 18 months’ on the side of their $700 fridge, should it?

          I just don’t feel manufacturers are the people to be dictating the terms here because they only have the interests of one side in mind. They may be competing against each other but they’ve all got similar goals and those goals tend to range from neutral to anti-consumer. It’s not in any of their interests to offer a 3 year warranty on a $1,000 smartphone because none of them want you to be using the same smartphone 1 year down the track (although I’ll admit smartphones are a trickier subject than fridges, it’s like a warranty on a shoe in a lot of ways).

    • Remember the manufacturer already told you what the warranty is and how long they expect it should last.

      Wrong. We have consumer laws that actually say that 12 months is not long enough for a $3000 LCD TV. They should likely have to last a minimum of 4-5 years.

      For some reason, too many people ignore what the manufacturer is already telling them with their warranty policies.

      This is exactly why CHOICE and the ACCC are constantly having to reinforce that warranty periods are not just what the manufacturer claims. They are based on a reasonable time for a product considering it’s purpose and price.

      It’s also this exact reasoning that means so many people fall for the extended warranty trap.
      Why would / should I expect any different.
      Because consumer law says different!

      • christ, another one who just can’t wrap their head around this.
        It all comes down to people actually believing that they can buy something that can’t fail. Ever.

        Stop expecting all these “protections” and think for yourselves before spending.
        It’s not really that hard. For some of us it seems anyway.

        CHOICE has no control BTW. Other than stirring people up to think that the things they buy (at the cheapest price they can find) should last longer than the actual manufacturer is prepared to say it will.

        ” They should likely have to last a minimum of 4-5 years. ”
        Who says? The ACCC who have no idea how the thing is made in the first place.?
        Get this into your heads.. The manufacturer is not prepared to say it will last longer, why expect anyone else to decide otherwise?

        I agree that these things “should” last longer, but if the manufacturer is only prepared to say it will last 12 months, then that’s all I would expect from it.
        So, when it fails, I’ll almost certainly be less surprised or frustrated by that than you will be,
        Again, I’ll still be smiling while you’re getting all hot and wheezy over it.

        Your call.

        • It all comes down to people actually believing that they can buy something that can’t fail. Ever.

          No. It’s about people expecting to base their purchase on buying a thing to serve it’s function and provide its benefits and not to base their decision on whether the product will last less than they think. It’s much better to have consumers that are confident in a manufacturers guarantee because it meets actual consumer rights than paranoid that the next purchase may not live up.

          Stop expecting all these “protections” and think for yourselves before spending.
          It’s not really that hard. For some of us it seems anyway.

          Seriously? The amount of times I’ve ‘thought for myself’ and done pages of research, read multiple rave reviews, and checked out all of the references to reliability and satisfaction and then when I buy it – it’s a bust. There’s only so much anyone can do before buying a product that is expected to last x long, buys the one that magically doesn’t.

          ” They should likely have to last a minimum of 4-5 years. ”
          Who says?

          Most people say. That’s what reasonable period means: reasonable, nine times out of ten means the average thing that a large amount of diverse people agree on.

          if the manufacturer is only prepared to say it will last 12 months, then that’s all I would expect from it.

          The manufacturer only says it will last that long because they in no way want to pay to repair/replace that batch of product that they usually would expect to last 5 years but this dud batch will be guaranteed to crap out in 2, so better not gamble and only offer 12 months. Sorry, I prefer manufacturers to be more diligent than that.

        • Hey, if you’re smiling and opening your wallet again for an expensive whitegood then by all means, go ahead. But the law supports your own feeling that “these things should last longer”. It’s up to you whether you want to enforce your right to that. Those of us who prefer not to throw our money away will be quite happy to assert our consumer rights and encourage manufacturers to create products that are worth the price.

    • Notice how no one is agreeing with you because you’re calling everyone crazy and unreasonable but you’re the minority here by a large margin. Do you understand consumer rights and laws? Have you even heard of the statutory warranty period? Other countries may let companies rule them with unreasonable warranties but in Australia products are expected to work and work well for a ‘reasonable’ amount of time. If you cannot understand that then you’re part of the problem and need to seriously think about what you’re suggesting and how letting companies apply a 12-mth warranty to a phone on a 24-mth plan was just plain stupid.

      So what that someone bought a $120 phone, the contract is 24-mths therefore the product at minimum should last that length.

      Some gets a fridge on finance for 50-mth GE interest-free deal, fridge only has 3-yr warranty, doesn’t that seem amazingly stupid to you? I guess not.

      Two simple example that illustrate previous real world situations consumers faced before ACCC stepped in. Grow a back bone mate and don’t accept crap dressed up as policy.

  • Does that apply to vehicles as well? I.e. If my ABS unit (major safety device that has little activity in most cars) decided to start throwing error codes, conveniently a few months out of warranty, should the manufacturer be obliged to repair it?

  • Car stereos is another thing they try and scam you with, saying you void warranty if you install it yourself instead of having their staff do it. You don’t, provided you actually know what you’re doing and don’t damage the unit during installation by connecting it up wrong you’re fine. One guy got quite pissed off at me when I declined the forceful offer of having them install it for an extra $99 (a special rate just for me I was told) while telling him I’m qualified to install it, more so than the idiots they employ.

    Extended warranty and surge protectors, largest markup/ money spinner they can offer.

  • Umart online are the fricking worst for this sort of thing! if a LCD, laptop or printer fails. the customer is referred to the manufacturers for repair/ replacement. if its past the 7 dayopen on failure rule they have. that’s fucking illegal as!

    • I normally just get them to show me on the ACCC website where it is the manufacturers responsibility. They make a huff and puff but I simply point that if they can show I will be on my merry way, otherwise they need to fix my product.

    • i brought parts for a build form them and some pins on the mobo were bent (this is for a haswell system – for those that don’t know the pins were moved from the CPU to the Mobo). i had to argue with them as they claimed i did it. i know i didn’t and thet only did a mobo swap when i made a lot of noise in there service area (with other customers present) about how they don’t back there products up and are breaking the law

  • Easy fix for this: All physical retailers must make a government created brochure available at all POS stations, and a link on all receipts. Its to be clearly labelled and accessible. Online retailers will need to have a link on the main page, and the on completion of sale.

    This way, in 1.5 years time, when arguing with Apple on why they should fix my phone i spent $1000, looking at the receipt, i can be reminded that i have rights, and where to look for it for further information.

  • Kogan is a pretty bad offender also. Extended warranties are offered on all items (even things like mobile phone cases!) and wording to the effect that items must be returned in original packaging with receipt at customer’s expense for repair/replacement under warranty.

    • Not sure Kogan is as bad as you’ve made them sound (maybe a bad experience on your part). I’ve recently just sent back a TV after 16 months (4 months out of the standard 12 month warranty) and while I had to package it for delivery, the expense of postage and repair will be with Kogan unless its proven that I damaged the unit. The original packaging was never a requirement.. and would be absurd as I dont keep 50+ inch plasma boxes lying around the house, nor would most reasonable people.

  • Just wanted to add, I work for a retailer and from my experience its not as though all sales people don’t care about these laws and such. More so it Is my co-workers and my obligation to our jobs and part of the commission structure that we have to sell and attach as many warranties and accessories as possible otherwise we do not qualify for our commission and therefore can be fired if our targets are not regularly achieved.

    There are a lot of sales people out there who I know personally that wish I didn’t and do anything they can to sell these extended warranties including just adding them to the customers dockets and bundling them into the price even without the customer being aware of it.

    My manager even gives me a hard time and says there is a huge grey area in the “reasonable length of time” or “Major/Minor Faults”. Who determines what is/isn’t which also makes it very difficult when us salespeople have rules we have to follow for the company.

    While I personally like to help everyone I can I have to work within the rules given to me even if that technically goes against my personal opinion.

  • The thing I hate about any type of ACL issue is how ambiguous the law is.
    It doesn’t define a ‘major’ breakdown, it doesn’t define reasonable time either.

    • Clearly a major breakdown would be one where the product simply cease to operate or is malfunctioning to the degree that it negates the feasibility of its major function or safety requirements.

      Reasonable time is simply the average time a large amount of people refer to as expected.

      • Reasonable time is simply the average time a large amount of people refer to as expected.

        That still doesn’t give a clear time frame, does that mean that because the average phone contract is 2 years, I should then expect my $1000 phone to only last that long? Or because I paid so much for it should I expect it to work for a longer time? Then should I also expect a phone I pay $1000 for to last as long as one I pay $49 for?

        The problem for me is that you can interpret the law in different ways.

        • If the phone is on contract then that timeframe should be the absolute minimum.
          However yes, a device worth thousands of dollars that’s not made of clearly perishable parts should last for quite a while. We can reduce that by stating that a device like a phone is portable and would suffer long periods of use and wear and tear.

          Arguably a phone worth $1000 should last longer than one worth $50 but both should last longer than a year and definitely should be covered for any contract length.

          We could bring obsolescence into this because technology changes rapidly but personally I think this point is moot since I don’t think these products should be breaking down as quickly as new tech is developed, and because most people expect their tech products to last about the same amount of time as average upgrade time anyway (like 2 to 5 years).

          Basically what I’m saying is that even if you can interpret the law in different ways, in a discussion like this we’ve already shown the actual correct way to interpret it. In fact I’m sure I could just walk around asking a few random people how long they expect their phones to last and quickly come out with an average based on price.

          • But what happens when one of those people that you ask says their phone should last 10 years because their Nokia 3315 they bought in 2002 just died and they only paid $99 for that?

            At what point does it become an unreasonable time? Do we have to survey 100 people for every item just to find out what a reasonable time frame is?

            Obsolescence would be an interesting idea, but it would probably prompt manufacturers to bring out a new model every 6 months and deem the last model obsolete.

            You are 100% correct about mobile phones under contract, if the phone is on the original contract then it should be covered, but most mobile phones have a 2 year manufacturers warranty anyway.

          • The chances of the average amount of people expecting their $99 phone to last 10 years is just too small. Also we don’t have to take it on an item by item basis because we don’t just take peoples words for it (I should’ve pointed that out). The market and consumer trends are a part of those expectations. Most people end up changing phone models every 2 – 5 years due to obsolescence, for most people $99 wouldn’t be a significant amount of 2 years average Australian income. So that combined with peoples average customer satisfaction with reliable usage I’d say a $99 phone should be reasonably expected to last by most peoples standards for about 2 years. That should go up with price.

            Contrast with a refrigerator: most fridges are already cost hundreds if not a few thousand dollars. Since they practically become a fixture in the home, they would on average be expected to last many years and indeed people tend to only buy new ones every 5 – 10 years (or more). So that combined with most peoples actual average expectations, I’d guess that a $1000 fridge would be expected to last at least 5 years or more. This should go up with price.

            btw when I say go up in price I mean for a more pricey more advanced version of the same thing. I’m not comparing say consumer fridges with industrial fridges etc.

  • Returns is not the only place they’re doing it. Take games. They strip the insides out for display and then put them back in at point of sale. But all XBox games come sealed with a security sticker. So any game sold without the seal is by law second hand. I’ve tried to explain this to the store near me repeatedly but they won’t listen and complaints only get my particular instance fixed – not the policy. Hell even the big store like Target and Big W do this. When I complained to Target head office a few years back they politely advised me this was their policy and they weren’t changing it.

  • So when my TV died less than a month after I bought, I could have demanded a new TV instead of them repairing it, considering I consider a TV to not turn on at all to be a major problem?

    • Unfortunately, that law is not clear on what is a major fault. If repair was just replacing a dodgy capacitor, that would not be a major fault, and they may be able to repair it. If the entire LCD screen was dead, that would be likely a major fault.

      • Considering they literally replaced everything electronic inside it (apart from the screen), it seemed like a major problem :S

        • Yep, in those circumstances it’s most likely a major fault. Your recourse is through the ACCC or your state consumer body.

    • Repair or replace is at the suppliers option, not yours. Their responsibility to you is to ensure you get what you paid for. A working television in this case,

      • Er, the article specifically mentions:
        CHOICE also released the following tips and facts to help educate consumers about their right to a refund:

        – If the problem is ‘major’, you can ask for a refund or replacement rather than a repair.

  • Someone correct me on the legality of this but…
    If a retailer is offering an extended warranty without actually altering the product in any way does that not imply that the item should reasonably be expected to last for the length of the extended warranty irrespective of whether you paid for it or not? The law has nothing to do with how long a retailer says they’ll support a product, or how long you paid them to support it, but how long the product should last.

    • In the case of ACL they’re much the same. Yes these laws are about how long a product should last, but it’s also stipulated that the retailer must provide resolution to repair/return/replace/refund issues and so they will by extension need to support your product for the expected time period.

  • The Manufacturers are not specifying that they think their product will only last for the period of the warranty. They are stating that, if something does go wrong in that period, we’ll fix it. The logic is more like 10% of our products will fail in that time, which we can fix for the “good name of our brand”, the other 90% will still be going strong for years after that. If they expected that all products would only last just past the warranty, they’d probably find a larger percentage coming back at them….so they leave plenty of room in the warranty.
    Part of that is what the market will bear, and part of that is marketing. (As you state, a longer warranty can be a sales point.)

    The laws in Australia state that the issue is between the customer and the retailer. This will bring into play a third market force; the retailer. If Brand X TVs keep breaking after 3-4 years, and the retailer has to pay for repairs / replacements they will either demand that manufacturers lift their game, or they will stock Brand Z which has a better track record.

    Who has the more clout? Individual consumers or the huge chains?

    I’m a retailer – returns and repairs are a bane of my life, but even worse are the suppliers who then leave me high and dry. So they soon find I no longer order from them.

  • It would be nice for Choice to visit Telstra stores…. They are shocking when it comes to a faulty product. We bought a brand new iPhone 4 and it was faulty straight out of the box. They would not replace the phone, nor refund…only send it away due to their ELF policy. It was deemed to be a major fault as it had no sound…. It took almost a Month of work with the TIO before they would replace it with what we (as a consumer) were entitled to, a new phone. In what world can you spend $1000+ on a brand new phone and all they can do is send it away to be repaired? Apple, when contacted could only replace it with a refurbished phone….. I say, thanks to the TIO.

  • Regarding some peoples question about what is deemed a ‘Major Fault’..according to Consumer Affairs, this is their definition;
    * if you had known about the problem! you never would have bought the product, or
    * the product is significantly different from a sample! description or demonstration model! or
    * the product cannot do what you told the salesperson you needed it to do or what it is normally supposed to do, and this problem cannot be fixed quickly or easily, or
    * the product is unsafe.

    Most people come under the third point because the store cannot guarantee a quick repair time, or it doesn’t do what it is supposed to do.

    In our case, the phone does two things essentially, it makes sounds (so we can hear) and it listens to sounds (so others can hear). Because it had no sound, it did not do what was vital to its function.

  • Can tell you this to be true, after we used these laws against JB for a computer that died with in 2 months we where given our refund and then band from the store. The sales staff and managers all where telling us WE had to deal with Dell but intact we bought the computer from JB and our contract was with them, and when the device stop working after two months we wanted a refund and to go somewhere else. We are still not allowed to buy anything for JB Ballarat (Electrical) as they just refuse to sell it to us now as we know the laws and they don’t like it.

  • I work in a big box electrical store in my area.

    We occasionally push extended warranties, but for a different reason. I’ll explain that in a moment.

    Our first step when we go for a sale is to offer a pamphlet that we’ve made using the ACCC materials. In it, it describes the salient points, such as the fact that the product is expected to work for a reasonable time, how the returns and repairs process goes, and what the rights of the consumers are. Simple stuff really. These are all part of the sales process that we’ve re-engineered. Then we talk about the product itself. That part is pretty standard.

    The extended warranty is a little different. In addition to the mandatory rights, the warranty adds on things like cover for accidental damage, including water damage, or other events where the product itself became faulty due to a USER error. It also covers transport of the item regardless of how the damage occurred. (If I remember (I need to re-read the pamphlet,) transport is only covered by the store if it’s a defect under the ACC laws normally.) We also state that the extended warranty is not designed to be a supplement to insurance, but an addition to it. So if, for example, a flood happens, then it should be insurance that covers it, not the extended warranty.

    We try to make this part of every sale so the consumers know what they’re entitled to under law. We attempt to provide literature to help. I’d like to see more stores do this.

  • I wonder if these laws include gift vouchers, for when you go to buy something and they say it’s expired as it was bought over twelve months ago, like the (very overpriced) ABC Shop…

  • Holy crap that’s a lot of comments. For once i’m not the one making huge posts! feelsgoodman

  • Its funny just bought an Xbone at JB hi-fi this evening, I was informed by the clerk at the store, that I should buy the 2 year protection plan, As because it is a launch console might have problems, and that after 30 days JB wont help me and will have to deal with Microsoft, I then said this was incorrect and mentioned the Australian consumer law, she then replied that this was incorrect. At that point I was like forget it. Couldn’t be bothered making a point about it, However I will make a point if I have problems after 30 days.

    On a side note, I always think that its funny when I buy something from JB as well, and they tell me that I should photocopy the receipt because it will fade, I always think that if that’s the case, shouldn’t they get a better receipt system ?

    Anyway, my little rant is now over.

  • A number of manufacturers offer international or traveller’s warranties in Australia which supposedly allow you to get your camera/laptop repaired free under warranty while overseas. The main problem is that the manufacturers’ overseas offices don’t honour them (while they also offer the same warranties).

  • i returned a pair of sennheiser headphones to JB yesterday, i thought because they were 14 months old (the box clearly states 2 years warranty) i was going to have to go 50 rounds of getting a refund (a replacement would have been better, but JB no longer sells the model i have), the manager looked the my receipt , and the photo copy. then she tried to explain to me that they normally would just give me a new pair, but they no longer sell them, trying to be understanding. i was so disappointed, at that point, i had all the paper work on my rights ready to go, because of this article.

    CHOICE you lied to me, i want my argument, i want to make a scene.

  • It does not matter what the sales person tells you or offers you. The regulations are there. Good on CHOICE for making that list of things to be aware of. Good customer service is being honest with your customers about what their rights are when they spend money in your store.

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