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Australian Consumer Law Questions

Can I demand a replacement or refund if my goods develop a fault?

It is normally accepted that if your product develops a fault, within the first two weeks from purchase, then you can return it to the Retailer for a Replacement or a Refund. You can still ask for a Repair if you prefer. The ACL addresses this as a Major Failure as you would not have purchased the goods had you known that they would have faulted within 2 weeks from purchase.

If you contact the Retailer about the fault then the retailer cannot refer you to the manufacturer and must organise a repair, replacement or refund. The retailer may refer you to a repairer for an assessment first and then decide what action to take.

If your product develops a fault within the first 12 months then it is normally accepted that this would be covered by the Manufacturers Express Warranty against defects. The Express Warranty period may be longer than 12 months. This in no way limits you to claiming under the ACL and you can ask the Retailer for a remedy. If you whish to have the product repaired under the Manufacturers warranty then you need to follow the directions provided by the manufacturer in the warranty statement.

From 1 January 2012, written warranties against defects must be in language that’s easy to read and understand and include:

  • the name, business address, phone number and email address of the person or business giving the warranty
  • what you must do to make a claim under the warranty, and what the person or business must do to honour the warranty
  • a statement that the warranty is given in addition to consumer guarantees and cannot exclude them.
If you feel that the product has become unsafe then there would be a Major Problem with complying to the Guarantee and you can Reject the Goods and demand a Refund or Replacement from the Retailer.

Approaching the retailer or manufacturer

The retailer who sold you the product or service cannot refuse to help you by sending you to the manufacturer or importer. You can approach the manufacturer or importer directly, however, you will only be entitled to recover costs from them, which include an amount for reduction in the product’s value and in some cases compensation for damages or loss. You cannot demand a repair, replacement or refund from the manufacturer.

 

An express warranty, in relation to goods, means an undertaking, assertion or representation:

                     (a)  that relates to:

                              (i)  the quality, state, condition, performance or characteristics of the goods; or

                             (ii)  the provision of services that are or may at any time be required for the goods; or

                            (iii)  the supply of parts that are or may at any time be required for the goods; or

                            (iv)  the future availability of identical goods, or of goods constituting or forming part of a set of which the goods, in relation to which the undertaking, assertion or representation is given or made, form part; and

                     (b)  that is given or made in connection with the supply of the goods, or in connection with the promotion by any means of the supply or use of the goods; and

                     (c)  the natural tendency of which is to induce persons to acquire the goods.

A warranty against defects is a representation communicated to a consumer in connection with the supply of goods or services, at or about the time of supply, to the effect that a person will (unconditionally or on specified conditions):

                     (a)  repair or replace the goods or part of them; or

                     (b)  provide again or rectify the services or part of them; or

                     (c)  wholly or partly recompense the consumer;

if the goods or services or part of them are defective, and includes any document by which such a representation is evidenced.