Harvey’s in hot water again: Consumer watchdog is taking 11 Harvey Norman franchisees to Federal Court for allegedly misleading consumers about their statutory rights.
The eleven Harvey Norman stores allegedly “engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct by making false or misleading representations to consumers about their rights” the ACCC said today.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission alleges that 11 stores engaged in shocking violations of consumer rights in relation to guarantees on products bought.
The alleged “misleading or deceptive conduct” includes: the franchisee claiming it had no obligation to provide remedies for damaged goods unless notified within a specific period of time such as 24 hours or two weeks; no obligation to provide remedies for goods covered by manufacturer’s warranty and no obligation to provide refunds/ replacements for large appliances or items below a certain price.
Harvey’s franchisees are believed to have even told consumers they had to pay a fee to repair and return of faulty products.
Harvey Norman may have to cough up a major fine and the court orders the ACCC is seeking include “penalties, declarations, injunctions and costs” it said.
The stores who allegedly mislead consumers about their rights are located in most states including Sydney’s Campbelltown, NSW; Hoppers Crossing, Vic and Bundall, Queensland.
Here’s the full list of all 11 Harvey Norman franchisees:
· Avitalb Pty Limited, located in Albany, Western Australia
· Bunavit Pty Limited, located in Bundall, Queensland
· Camavit Pty Limited, located in Campbelltown, New South Wales
· Gordon Superstore Pty Limited, located in Gordon, New South Wales
· HP Superstore Pty Limited, located in Hoppers Crossing, Victoria
· Ipavit Pty Limited, located in Ipswich, Queensland
· 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.
But this is not the first time Harvey’s has been in hot water with the ACCC.
Last December it fined the electronics giant $1.25m for “seriously misleading and deceptive” ads and also previously handed down fines to the retailer for misleading consumers about conditions in its catalogue and online between October 2008 and July 2011.
“The Australian Consumer Law provides consumers with 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,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
The watchdog also said it is conducting a “number of investigations” into other large manufacturers and retailers for alleged misrepresentations of consumer guarantee rights.
“If an item purchased breaks down within a short time of being puchased, the consumer may be entitled to a refund or a replacement item.These rights cannot be excluded, restricted or modified.”
The matter is set down for a directions hearing at 9:30am on 19 December at Sydney’s Federal Court.
Earlier this year the ACCC embarked on a national consumer guarantees awareness raising campaign, ‘If it’s not right, use your rights. Repair, replace, refund.’
“Consumer Guarantees has been identified as a national priority by ACL Regulators and is a matter of particular concern for the ACCC with more than 16,000 contacts from members of the public to the ACCC’s Infocentre so far this year,” Sims said.