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An update from our CEO

Alan Kirkland

I am thrilled to announce the launch of an exciting new service for CHOICE members.

Since July 2014, we've been trialling an initiative called CHOICE Help, which provides information and assistance for people seeking to exercise their consumer rights. Based on the success of this trial, we're now making it available to all CHOICE members.

Under this initiative, we're empowering consumers with a range of new information on basic consumer rights issues, on our website and in regular articles in CHOICE magazine. We want all members of the public to think of CHOICE as the organisation they can turn to when they need information on consumer rights.

For members, we'll also assist with individual consumer advice. We'll let you know how to pursue your rights and where this isn’t successful, CHOICE Help can intervene on your behalf.

We already have a long list of examples where we've saved members money or helped them to resolve problems. We'll be featuring these examples in the magazine and on the website, but to give you a taste…

  • Goma had her faulty $1800 Electrolux fridge replaced after we intervened.
  • Greg had $500 worth of repairs done on his solar hot water system.
  • Jenny received a $4000 partial refund for a travel package that was cancelled.
  • Elizabeth had a $770 collision damage waiver refunded by Europcar.

The startling thing about most of these examples is that they involve basic rights, like the right to repair or replacement when a product stops working within a reasonable period of time, or the right to a refund where a service has not been provided as agreed.

As well as providing good outcomes for consumers, these examples are giving us a better understanding of where the Australian Consumer Law is not working well – because businesses either don't understand their obligations or are actively flouting them.

We can use this information when speaking in the media, when shortlisting for the Shonky Awards, when talking to the ACCC about its priorities, or when workshopping ideas with the producers of ABC's The Checkout.

Whichever of these paths we take, the information that we're gathering through CHOICE Help will help us make sure that the law works better for consumers and, where it's not working, help us lobby governments to strengthen the law.

And that's one of the core reasons that CHOICE was established over 50 years ago.

So if you hit a problem, email us at consumeradvice@choice.com.au or visit choice.com.au/choicehelp for more information. We're here to help!

Alan Kirkland, CEO
Email:alan@choice.com.au
Twitter: @AlanKirkland