What Are ‘Consumer Guarantees’? (2019 Update)
Purchased an expensive product and want know if you're covered if it stops working? Read about consumer guarantees and how they can benefit you here.
So you’ve just bought a new state of the art TV. We’ve all had to buy big ticket items such as TVs, fridges, laptops and other appliances – usually with that niggling feeling in the back of your mind that it could break within the first two years of ownership. Surely, the only solution would be to buy the extended warranty that the salesman is so desperately pushing you to buy, right? Wrong. Consumer guarantees exist for this reason.
What is it?
A consumer guarantee is a specific obligation the supplier and/or retailer has to honour and assure the working condition of the product to customers. These guarantees come with the purchase of services or products and aim to protect the consumer. In the event that something was problematic or ill-performing, you would generally be entitled to:
- A repair, replacement or refund;
- Cancel the service;
- Compensation for damages and loss.
What do they cover?
Consumer guarantees cover most items. Claims can depend upon the expected quality given the type of product and taking into account its price range. In other words, that cheap $100 TV you bought for the kitchen would be much less likely to be consumer guaranteed if something were to go wrong than your $1000 TV in the living room. these guarantee still apply, even where another policy regarding warranties and repairs exists.
What does it not cover?
If you’ve changed your mind
In the event that you decide the good or service does not meet your own personal expectations based on your fickle tendencies, you will not be covered.
If you’ve mistreated the product
Simply, that iPhone you took to the beach every weekend, with the sand invading the various ports finally causing it to stop working? Sorry your abuse wouldn’t make the cut for the consumer guarantee.
If you’ve bought the product knowing about the faults
If you thought you would cross your fingers and try your luck with a product that was already damaged but heavily discounted and too cheap to resist – sorry you wouldn’t be covered for that either. This exception relates back to the previous expected quality point, if it is a damaged, you are trading off the damages for the cheaper price paid.
If you’ve ignored advice/instructions from the seller
You thought you were smarter than the experts? Taking a clearly labelled 50m water-resistant watch deepsea diving and surprise, surprise – it stopped working. That ‘fault’ won’t be covered. If you have failed to follow the instructions on a product resulting in the fault, then you won’t be compensated.
You were ambiguous with what you were wanting when buying the product
If your item does not work for your specific needs due to your bad communication with the staff member, you will have to bear that burden of it not working, not them.
The item is > $40 000 and is used by a business for business purposes
In other words, if you are using the item for business purposes, and the value of the item is below $40 000, you will be covered by the consumer guarantee. If it’s more than this, then you won’t be.
You bought the item secondhand from a private seller
The chain of liability could be too great if the manufacturers/retailers were expected to cover all of these old and used products, which were sold onto other people.
You bought the item at auction
Same point as above, auctions can be dodgy and buyers generally know that.
How to go about claiming your consumer guarantee?
There are two potential avenues here. You could either approach the retailer that directly sold you the product or the manufacturer. Generally, it’s advisable that the first point of contact be the retailer because they can provide more solutions such as a repair, replacement or refund. Whereas, the supplier can only pay out a reduced product value and only maybe additional compensation for loss.
Simply approach the supplier of the service and their solution would be to cancel the service and also maybe compensation for damages and loss.
A few final points
- It’s illegal for a business to claim/have signs that they have a no refund policy under any circumstances.
- Consumer guarantee rights for customers do not expire. They can still apply after the explicit warranties have lapsed (given that the other criteria is met).
Don’t be fooled by that confidently smooth manager telling you ‘tough luck’ – know your legal rights as a consumer and if something doesn’t seem right, contact the ACCC.
Anthony is a Paralegal at Lawpath. Pursuing his interest for Insolvency and Commercial Law, he is currently completing his third year of a combined degree in a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Commerce at University of New South Wales.