Australian Consumer Law

One year on, we take a look at the successes and downfalls of the ACL in its debut year.
 
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04.Your post-Christmas rights

Your post-Christmas ACL info page

Where do I stand if I need to return something?

For Christmas gifts with major failures you may reject the goods and get a refund or an identical replacement. There is a major failure with a product when you would not have purchased it had you known about the problem, it is significantly different from the description, sample or demonstration you were shown, it is substantially unfit for its normal purpose or it is unsafe. 

For Christmas gifts with minor failures the seller may choose to offer you a refund, replacement or repair.  This must be provided free of charge and within a reasonable time period. In this case you cannot immediately reject the goods and demand a refund, you must give the supplier a chance to fix the problem. Minor failures include small problems with products that do not fit into the major failure categories, for example, loose threads on clothing. 

You do not have the automatic right to a refund if you change your mind, although many retailers will offer you this option if you return the product within a certain time period. 

Watch out for these common breaches of your rights:

No refund – store credit only

Consumers are entitled to a refund for products found to have a major fault. Under the ACL, a major failure with a product is when: you would not have purchased it had you known about the problem; it is significantly different from the description, sample or demonstration you were shown; it is substantially unfit for its purpose; or it is unsafe.

Out of warranty = no remedy

Regardless of lapsed warranties, consumer guarantees require a product to be of “acceptable quality” throughout its reasonable life.  This length of time can be determined by the court, however it may often be longer than the warranty period, especially in the case of an expensive product such as an oven or fridge.

You signed the contract, now you’re bound by it

Courts now have the power to cancel unfair contract terms. This this can include unfair behaviour hidden away in terms and conditions fine print.   

Extended warranty = better protection

An extended warranty may charge you for protection you are already entitled to under the law, so be aware these are not always worthwhile.

 

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