Modern technology gives us many things.

Knowing your rights if something goes wrong with your product

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complaintWhen we buy a tech product, there are times when things don’t work as they should and we need to take it back to the store. The good news is the law is on your side.

Since alterations to the Australian Consumer Law on January 1, 2011 there have been sweeping changes to the way consumers are treated if they have an issue with the product.

But although products have a warranty that expires, a consumer’s rights has no expiry date.

With these news laws introduced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) comes a “reasonable expectation” that a device will work as it’s designed to for a period of time.

And this period of time is usually always longer than the warranty period.

For example, a $5000 LED TV might come with a 12-month or even a 24-month warranty but the “reasonable expectation” is that a product of this value should work for a lot longer than two years.

Something to keep in mind if a store offers you an extended warranty – in some cases it is not necessary.

Here are your rights as a consumer if you have an issue with a product:

REPAIR, REPLACE, REFUND

If something is wrong with your product, as a consumer you are entitled to ask for a free repair, a replacement or a refund.

But this applies if the product is not working properly or as described before you purchased it.

However this does not apply if you change your mind, found it cheaper in another store or decided you had no use for it.

It is the store’s responsibility to organise this and if they tell you that you need to take it up with the manufacturer, they are breaking the law.

After all, you are a customer of the store, not the manufacturer.

REPAIRS

For minor issues a free repair, if offered by the business, must be accepted.

If the business can’t offer a free repair in a reasonable time you can get the repair carried out elsewhere and pass on the cost to the store, ask for a replacement or ask for a refund.

REPLACEMENT AND REFUNDS

If the problem with the product is major you can ask for a replacement or a refund.

A replacement must be identical to the product initially purchased and a refund should be the same amount and repaid in the same form.

If you paid cash, then the refund will be cash – if it was purchased on a credit card, the amount will be refunded onto the card.

RETURNING THE PRODUCT

A customer is responsible for returning the item to the store but, in the case of larger items, the store must organise the return and pay for it.

And don’t worry if you don’t have the original packaging – you can return a product without it.

NO REFUND SIGNS

It is actually again the law for a business to display a sign stating that No Refunds are offered under any circumstances.

WARRANTY

A warranty is a voluntary agreement offered by the store who sold you the product.

A warranty is separate from a consumer guarantee that a product will work as described and for a reasonable period depending on the product or service even if it exceeds the period of warranty.

DO I NEED AN EXTENDED WARRANTY

Extended warranties are often offered to customers by retailers to extend the period of the manufacturer’s warranty and it may be sold on the premise that it provides added protection that you wouldn’t normally receive.

This isn’t always the case because of the consumer guarantees the store must comply with.

In other words – you don’t have to buy an extended warranty – it is optional and probably not even necessary.

A business is breaking the law if they put you under undue pressure, mislead you or use scare tactics to sell you an extended warranty.

KEEP YOUR RECEIPT OR PROOF OF PURCHASE

To demand a repair, replacement or refund, a customer must either have the receipt or some other proof of purchase.

A credit card statement will suffice but as store may ask for more if the statement does not clearly itemise the product.

CONTACTING THE ACCC

If you are still unhappy with the situation and your complaint hasn’t been resolved you can contact the ACCC to make an enquiry or a complaint by calling 1300 302 502.

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