In a direct warning to manufacturers and retailers, the lawyers claim it's important to ensure customer-facing staff are properly trained and do not, for example, confuse the requirements which apply to the return of defective products with those that apply for "change of mind" returns.
The nature of manufacturers' warranties and in-store returns policies as being additional to, rather than in place of, consumers' rights under the ACL consumer guarantees regime is another key distinction that businesses must ensure their staff understand.
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said: "Consumers have rights to certain remedies from retailers and manufacturers when goods fail to comply with the consumer guarantee provisions, including that goods are of acceptable quality and fit for the purpose for which they were sold. These rights cannot be excluded, restricted or modified."
Nine of the Harvey Norman franchisees are:
Avitalb Pty Limited, located in Albany, Western Australia
Bunavit Pty Limited, located in Bundall, Queensland
Camavit Pty Limited, located in Campbelltown, New South Wales
HP Superstore Pty Limited, located in Hoppers Crossing, Victoria
Launceston Superstore Pty Limited, located in Launceston, Tasmania
Mandurvit Pty Limited, located in Mandurah, Western Australia
Moonah Superstore Pty Limited, located in Moonah, Tasmania
Oxteha Pty Limited, located in Oxley, Queensland; and
Salecomp Pty Limited, located in Sale, Victoria.
"While the ACCC does not allege that Harvey Norman Holdings Limited is involved in making of these representations, the fact that the allegations made by the ACCC relate to a number of its stores in widespread locations across Australia is of great concern to the ACCC, and I expect to Harvey Norman too," Mr Sims said.