The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has revealed that issues around consumer guarantees have skyrocketed 39% in 2017, with half these consumers reporting issues receiving remedies for faulty electronics, whitegoods or automotive products.
The consumer watchdog states it is “concerned by this growing trend”, as more than 29,000 consumers have submitted reports of their qualms, up from 21,000 in 2016.
One of the most common reasons people contact the ACCC surrounds issues of faulty items, and misleading policies about consumer rights.
ACCC Acting Chair Dr Michael Schaper has expressed his disappointment with the growing number of consumers who have to assert their rights:
“Unfortunately a lot of people run into problems when trying to get a remedy for a faulty product. For example, they might be told the product is out of warranty and nothing can be done”
“Many consumers often assume that the so-called warranties they are offered by a retailer are their only protection. This is not true, as consumer guarantee rights are separate to any warranty that comes with a product. The length of time these rights apply is also unrelated to the manufacturer’s warranty period”
“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”.
Dr Schaper states that many local businesses are also wrongly informing consumers to send faulty items back to the manufacturer:
“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”
“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”.
Individuals who have issues obtaining remedies for faulty products are advised to utilise the ACCC’s complaint letter tool, and failing this are invited to report the issue with the ACCC.