In most cases employees have been branded "pretty clueless" when it came to understanding warrany obligations. During a recent visit to a Bing Lee store we not only found the staff lacking in their knowledge of consumer electronic goods we were told that a Panasonic TV delivered "excellent LED backlighting".
Stores critised by Choice include The Good Guys, Harvey Norman and JB Hi Fi.
Choise visited 80 stores across all Australian states posing as regular customers. Singled out was big ticket items such as large TV's.
Choise said that at every store sales staff attempted to sell an extended warranty package.
None of the retailers investigated by Choice have returned our calls.
Choice also discovered that sales staff downplayed the store's responsibility should a big ticket item cease to function after the manufacturer's one-year warranty period, claiming that any repair and returns would be out of the store's hands.
"The advice given by major electronics retailers flies in the face of the ACL," Choise said in a statement. "The fact that 85% of sales staff got it wrong and 100% offered an extended warranty is very concerning. Consumers need to be wary of warranty advice they are given in-store.
"Consumers should not be fooled into purchasing extended warranties they don't need and we'd like to see the ACCC and fair trading bodies investigate these breaches."
If we were one of these retailers, it would be time to start sweating: the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recently fined HP $3 million for misleading consumers over their warranty rights.
Choice has released the following tips and facts to help educate consumers about their right to a refund:
If a product is not of acceptable quality the retailer can't charge you for fixing it.
Retailers can't just refer you to the manufacturer. They're obliged to resolve your issue.
If the problem is 'major', you can ask for a refund or replacement rather than a repair.
You should be informed if a replacement is second-hand or if they've used refurbished parts to repair it.
Repairs must be made within a reasonable time. Mobile phones and fridges, for instance, must be given high priority, or you can demand a replacement.
You don't have to return a product in its original packaging, and if you've lost your receipt you can use the following as proof of purchase: a credit card statement that itemises goods, a confirmation or receipt number for a phone or internet transaction, a warranty card showing the date, price and place of purchase; or the serial or production number if it's stored on the retailer's computer.