01.Go Harvey, Go Harvey (to court)
Several Harvey Norman franchises are in hot water with Australia's consumer watchdog – and it's not the first time the electronics franchise has been in trouble of late. Australian courts have ordered a further three franchises pay a total of $60,000 for making false or misleading representations about consumer guarantee rights, while a fourth is to pay $26,000.
These fines are the latest to come out of a slew of proceedings brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), with nine judgments to date against Harvey Norman franchisees leading to penalties totalling $234,000.
The franchises penalised in the latest round of litigation are:
- Oxteha Pty Ltd, located in Oxley, Queensland ($26,000)
- Gordon Superstore Pty Ltd located in Gordon, NSW ($25,000)
- Mandurvit Pty Ltd located in Mandurah, WA ($25,000)
- Avitalb Pty Ltd located in Albany, WA ($10,000)
According to the Federal Court, each franchisee made false or misleading representations to consumers about their consumer guarantee rights, with examples of the misrepresentations including:
- the franchisee had no obligation to provide a remedy while the relevant product was still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty;
- the franchisee had no obligation to provide consumers with a choice of remedy if the relevant product was supplied more than three months ago; and
- the consumer would have to pay a postage and handling fee before the relevant product could be returned from the manufacturer.
All this is no surprise to CHOICE. When we conducted an Australian Consumer Law shadow shop late last year, we found retailers including Harvey Norman aren’t up to scratch when it came to providing accurate information to shoppers about warranties and ACL rights.