A total of 9 Federal Court judgments with penalties totalling $234,000 have been successfully brought by the ACCC against Harvey Norman franchisees for making false or misleading representations regarding consumer guarantee rights.
Examples of the misrepresentations made include:
- the franchisee had no obligation to provide a remedy while the relevant product was still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty;
- the franchisee had no obligation to provide consumers with a choice of remedy if the relevant product was supplied more than three months ago; and
- the consumer would have to pay a postage and handling fee before the relevant product could be returned from the manufacturer.
Some of the franchisees concerned were ordered to display in-store corrective notices and implement a consumer law compliance program.
What rights do consumers have?
For goods purchased after 1 January 2011 (when the Australian Consumer Law was introduced), consumers have a set of rights called consumer guarantees, that:
- goods will be of acceptable quality;
- goods will be fit for any disclose purpose;
- goods will match any description under which it is sold;
- goods will have spare parts available for a reasonable time; and
- all express warranties offered will be honoured.
If the good concerned has a major fault, the consumer is entitled to a replacement or refund from the supplier of the good.
If the good concerned has a minor fault, the consumer is entitled to have the good remedied (that is, fixed) within a reasonable time. If the supplier does not fix the good, then the consumer can either reject the good and get a refund, or have the problem fixed elsewhere and recover reasonable costs of doing so from the supplier.
For more information on consumer rights, visit the ACCC’s consumer rights & guarantees page.
If your organisation would like further information about its trade practices obligations, or if you require a customised trade practices compliance program for your organisation, contact Melissa Lammers for further information.