CHOICE: JB Hi-Fi & Harvey Norman Among Aussie Retailers Stuffing Up Consumer Rights

Maybe you’ve never had a bad experience returning a dodgy TV or gadget. Good for you! Unfortunately, very few of us fall into this lovely demographic and have endured the run-around from both online and bricks-and-mortar stores. Turns out almost half of Aussie electronics retailers are guilty of having staff with no idea of what rights consumers have.

Image: Brian Turner / Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

The results of a recent “shadow shop” by consumer advocate CHOICE showed that “nearly half” of staff at stores including The Good Guys, Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi knew very little about the “basic rights to a refund for faulty products”.

It’s great if you know what’s what — in fact, you should make sure you’re educated before even attempting a return — but ideally, salespeople should be knowledgeable, trustworthy and helpful when it comes to handling returns.

Sadly, that doesn’t appear to be the case. From CHOICE’s investigation:

CHOICE’s shadow shoppers posed as customers looking to buy a big-screen TV priced between $2000 and $3000 and asked if the store would take the TV back to get it repaired if it broke down around two years after purchase.

“We found 48% of the retailers contacted failed to offer our shoppers their basic consumer rights, which is a staggering failure rate so long after these consumer protections were introduced in Australia,” says Mr Godfrey.

“Under the Australian Consumer Law you can return a faulty TV to the store or contact the manufacturer for a reasonable period after the manufacturer’s warranty has expired.”

The CHOICE report also found the following as the “most common failures by the salespeople”:

  • They couldn’t go to the retailer, only to the manufacturer
  • The TV would not be covered as the manufacturer’s warranty or the voluntary warranty period is expired
  • The store would accept the TV but any repairs would be at the shopper’s expense
  • They would only be covered if they purchased an extended warranty

Harvey Norman got a special mention, with six of the retailer’s stores earning themselves a mention to the ACCC.

The most staggering — though hardly surprising — statistic is that only five percent of salespeople didn’t try to sell a warranty along with the purchase. I know, I know — clearly someone doesn’t want their Christmas bonus this year!

Do salespeople understand consumer law? [CHOICE]

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