ACCC complaints for faulty products rose 39% in 2017

Mia Steiber 8 January 2018 NEWS

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The ACCC is urging consumers to read up on their rights regarding faulty products. It doesn't matter if the warranty period has ended!

As 2017 came to a close, the ACCC calculated that it received 29,000 complaints from Australians regarding issues around consumer guarantees. Half of these complaints detailed problems receiving a proper remedy in relation to faulty automotive, whitegood or electronic products.

In 2016, 21,000 complaints of the same nature were received – which means that 2017 saw a significant 39% increase in complaints compared to 2016.

Under Australian Consumer Law, shoppers have consumer guarantees which entitle all consumers to a refund, repair or replacement if an item they purchased is faulty. If the fault is major, you can choose your remedy and if the fault is minor, the retailer can choose which remedy to give. This applies even if the "warranty period" has run out.

ACCC Acting Chair Dr Michael Schaper said, “It’s disappointing to see that more and more people are having issues enforcing their consumer guarantee rights.

“We want shoppers across the country to be aware that they have automatic consumer guarantee rights under the Australian Consumer Law when they purchase a product or service. Businesses cannot ignore these rights under any circumstances.”

You're still entitled to your consumer guarantee for a functional product that doesn't do what it promises, regardless of warranty periods. It's also important to note that retailers can't just direct customers to the manufacturer either. The retailer made the sale, and therefore, the retailer is responsible for the consumer guarantee.

“If you return a faulty product to the retailer you purchased it from, they must provide you with a remedy and cannot direct you to the manufacturer instead,” Schaper said.

“For example, if you buy a new TV that breaks down after the manufacturer’s warranty expires, you may still be entitled to a remedy under your consumer guarantee rights, including a repair, replacement or refund,” Schaper said.

“One common tip we recommend is saying the three magic words, Australian Consumer Law, to let retailers know you understand your rights. This can help resolve an issue quickly."

The ACCC advises that consumers understand their rights and guarantees under the law since consumer guarantees are one of the most popular reasons for people to contact the ACCC.

Under the law, a product is considered to have a major fault in the following situations:

  • It has a problem that would have stopped you from buying it if you’d known about it.
  • It is unsafe.
  • It is significantly different from the sample or description, and/or it doesn’t do what the business said it would or what you asked for, and it can’t be easily fixed.

But also be aware that your consumer guarantees are voided if you've misused the product in anyway – so keep your phone out of water, people! Things like water damage issues aren't covered.

If you're having trouble with a retailer, you can try the ACCC’s complaint letter tool, your local consumer protection agency or even report the issue to the ACCC.

And if you're looking for safe retailers to shop with, you can check out finder's favourite retailers with great return policies or check out our returns policy comparison of 60 of Australia's top retailers.

Image: Shutterstock

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