Today is World Consumer Rights Day and that offers a timely reminder of the power we have when we spend our hard-earned money as consumers. To mark the occasion, Choice has offered some consumer rights tips.
Many of us are unaware of these rights which are important to know should something happen to the product you’ve purchased.
Knowing where we stand when it comes to Australian Consumer Law will make it easier for customers to argue their case if the product is faulty and not performing as described.
“Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of exactly what your rights are, and what you’re entitled to if something goes wrong,” says Choice consumer rights expert, Amy Pereira.
- If a product fails, you are entitled to either a repair, replacement, or refund
“When you purchase a product, that product must meet consumer guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law. For example, the item must be fit for purpose and free of any defects. It should match the description on its packaging or on the website you purchased it from,” says Pereira.
“If a product that you’ve purchased doesn’t work you have a right to a fair fix.
“If the problem is minor, the retailer can decide to offer a refund, repair or replacement.
“However, if you’re facing a major problem, you get to choose between a refund or replacement.”
- Two or more minor faults can equal a major failure
“A recent addition to the consumer law says that if a product you’ve purchased has two or more minor failures, and you wouldn’t have purchased the product if you knew about these failures, it’s considered to have a major failure,” says Pereira.
“This is really important as it means that you have more options when it comes to asking for a repair, refund or replacement.
“For example, if you face multiple problems with a new car, it’s now much clearer that you should be offered a replacement or a refund.”
- Most extended warranties are useless
“Businesses will often try to convince you to buy an extended warranty, but in most cases you really don’t need one. If an item you purchase is faulty, under the consumer law a retailer has to offer you a remedy,” according to Pereira.
“It’s also good to know that your right to a remedy will remain in place for a reasonable amount of time after you’ve purchased something, even if the warranty has expired.
“If a company tries to sell you an extended warranty, ask them to explain what that warranty offers above and beyond your rights under the Australian Consumer Law.”
- “No refund” signs aren’t enforceable
“A business can’t opt out of the consumer law. Signs that say ‘no refund’ or ‘no refund on sales items’ are illegal, as they suggest that you aren’t entitled to a refund under any circumstances,” Pereira says.
The consumer law says that you must be given a remedy for a faulty product.”
- Don’t take no for an answer
“If you suspect that a retailer isn’t treating you fairly, contact your state or territory’s fair trading agency who can help you get a fair outcome,” says Pereira.
“You can also report issues to the ACCC, as they have the power to take action against businesses that breach the consumer law.”
- Items bought before 2011 aren’t necessarily covered
Your rights under the Australian Consumer Law only apply to products or services bought on or after 1 January 2011.
You might still have rights under the previous Trade Practices Act. Products or services bought before 1 January 2011 must meet the statutory conditions or warranties that were valid at the time.
- I’ve changed my mind, what are my rights?
ACL doesn’t cover a change of heart with a product.
If you’ve changed your mind or found the item cheaper elsewhere or you don’t like it or have no use for it you have no recourse for a refund.
Businesses are only obligated to refund or replace the item if it’s faulty.
But you might be lucky – some retailers will issue refunds as a sign of good will.
- You may be entitled to recover postage or transportation costs for returns
If you have to return items via the post keep your receipts as you may be entitle to be reimbursed for the cost.
If the product is larger it is actually the seller’s responsibility to organise and pay for the shipping.