Ask LH: Are Private Sellers Obliged To Replace Faulty Second-Hand Items?

Dear Lifehacker, I purchased an imported Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 from a coworker who decided to upgrade. I was very happy with it, but it died suddenly within six months of the initial purchase. Lenovo don’t seem to offer warranty service on this model in Australia, and the chance of repair seems slim. Is my coworker obliged to provide some kind of refund? Thanks, Paperweight Polisher

Dear PP,

In short, no. Australia’s consumer protection laws do not extend to goods bought from one-off sales by private sellers. This includes co-workers peddling second-hand tech.

As explained in the government’s fact sheet on shopping rights: “The seller has no obligation to refund, replace or repair the item you bought from them (for example, at a garage sale or through a classifieds ad).”

With that said, it can’t hurt to approach your colleague and politely explain the situation to him. If he wants to maintain a harmonious workplace, it’s in his best interests to help out.

If the device is still under warranty, Lenovo should be willing to provide assistance even if it was purchased outside of Australia. To keep things simple, maybe get your co-worker to make the claim on your behalf. (Assuming he has the paperwork.)

Failing that, your co-worker might have some other solution up his sleeve. Perhaps he has a tech-savvy friend who owes him a favour, or another old laptop lying around? You won’t know until you ask.

Whatever happens, do try to keep things civil with your co-worker. Wasting a few hundred bucks on a faulty product is frustrating, but working in a hostile office is infinitely worse. As the adage goes — buyer beware!


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