Know your rights - because many retailers don't

Push for action on fairer refunds, replacements and repairs

CHOICE is calling on major retailers to sign up to a Fair Warranty Charter so consumers get access to the refunds, replacements or repairs they are entitled to under national laws known as statutory warranties.

New research commissioned by all state, territory and Federal consumer agencies has found 50% of shoppers aren’t aware they have any rights under the law on warranties or ' if they do ' what they mean. It also found consumers were out of pocket to the extent of $4.3 billion dollars during the past two years in relation to problems with faulty whitegoods, electronic items and mobile phones.

Almost two-thirds of those who experienced problems reported feeling frustrated and almost half felt angry about the process they went through. Under the Trade Practices Act, consumers have the right to ask the retailer for a refund, replacement or repair if the product does not last as long as one could reasonably expect it to bearing in mind its cost.

“There is widespread confusion amongst shoppers and retailers about the situation but the law is clear. Consumers have legal protection under a statutory warranty if the product is faulty or not fit for its purpose,” said CHOICE spokesman Christopher Zinn. Statutory warranties differ from a manufacturer’s warranty, which typically last 12 months and an extended warranty, which is sold directly by the retailer at the time of purchase.

While there is no set time period in law, the statutory warranty varies according to the price, the age and the quality of the product. For example, you could
reasonably expect a refrigerator to continue to work without fault for at least five years and a mobile phone perhaps two years.

The National Baseline Study on Warranties and Refunds, conducted by the National Education and Information Advisory Taskforce (NEIAT), which surveyed consumers, retailers and manufacturers, found that 57% of retailers and 47% of manufacturers had no knowledge at all of consumers’ rights other than the common 12-month manufacturer’s warranty.

CHOICE is launching a campaign at to educate consumers about their rights. The site offers a suite of tools, including a template letter consumers can send to the retailer to ask them to sign up to the charter, a script for taking action over the phone and an SMS message to take in to the retailer in order to get a better result.

Read the full Fair Warranty Charter.


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