Ask LH: What Happens To My Dick Smith Warranty?

Dear Lifehacker, Like many fellow bargain hunters, I hit up the Dick Smith closing down sales over the weekend. While the deals weren't as impressive as I was hoping, I did manage to pick up some new headphones for 40 per cent off. However, I'm now a bit worried about what will happen if they suddenly stop working — in a few weeks, there won't be any Dick Smith stores to take them back to! Does the warranty still hold up? Thanks, Beats Fan

Photo: Getty Images

Dear BF,

If the headphones aren't Dick Smith branded, you should still be protected by Australian consumer laws. As the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) explains on its website:

All suppliers, manufacturers and service providers that provide you with a warranty against defects must comply with that warranty. If they do not, you may bring an action against the person or business who provided the warranty, either under the ACL or for breach of contract.

When requesting a refund or replacement for a faulty product, you are supposed to approach the retailer that you purchased the product from. While it's possible to contact the manufacturer, your rights aren't quite as robust. This is what the ACCC has to say on the matter:

Generally, a consumer is entitled to the same kind of remedy from a manufacturer as they could have received from a retailer, such as having goods replaced or repaired.   However, there is one important difference. A consumer only has the right to obtain a refund from the seller – that is, the business they have a contract of sale with. This means that manufacturers and importers are not required to provide a consumer with a refund for defective goods, if the consumer purchased the goods from a retailer.

With that said, many manufacturers include registration and warranty documents inside the packaging. If you fill these out and return them, they have entered a contract of sale with the consumer. This effectively cuts the retailer out of the equation and allows you to deal directly with the company that made the product.

When a retailer goes out of business, you can also contact the external administrator as an ordinary unsecured creditor to recover your money. However, we imagine customers chasing headphone refunds are pretty far down the list when it comes to doling out compensation. If nothing else works, you can make a consumer complaint with the ACCC. Good luck!

Cheers Lifehacker

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    What about my Fitbit? I have one giving me skin iritations and I can't return it

    This doesn't really answer the question - if Dick Smith refuses to honour the warranty you have no recourse since they can't really be sued being bankrupt.

      It does answer it. If the reseller doesn't exist, you go to the manufacturer. i.e; if you're samsung T.V breaks down and you purchased it from Dick Smith, you contact Samsung directly. They will then communicate directly with you to solve the issue, albeit repair or replacement.

      Another point, Dick Smith can't refuse your warranty as they won't/don't exist anymore, and even if they DID refuse it, you can't sue them... You would go through ACCC with a complaint.

      You can sue them, its just that if you happened to win, you'd end up an unsecured creditor and get little to nothing anyway. Net effect being that its not worth it, which is why more than one company has gone into receivership in the past.

    Re Fitbit....good luck with going to the manufacturer. You won't get a refund from them. They don't think the ACCC rules apply - their "policies" trump ACCC.

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