Right to refund or replacement
The ACCC has delivered definitive guidance on consumers' rights in the wake of the recall of Samsung's top loader washing machines, saying the fault with the machines constitutes a major failure and that consumers are entitled to choose their remedy – be it a refund, replacement or repair.
Even the 80,000 plus consumers who've already had a repair on their recalled Samsung top loader machines still have the right to exercise their consumer guarantees, ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard told CHOICE.
In 2013, Samsung recalled around 144,000 of its top loader washing machines after discovering they posed a fire risk. The machines have an "internal fault where condensation can penetrate an electrical connector causing deterioration which may in turn cause a fire," the ACCC said in a statement. Since the recall began there have been at least 207 fires or fire-related incidents as a result of the faulty machines.
Fault is major failure
Recently, the ACCC became aware that some consumers with recalled Samsung machines were having troubling getting a replacement or a refund.
"The ACCC is investigating these reports. If consumers purchased an affected Samsung washing machine, they have the right under the Australian Consumer Law to choose their remedy, which includes a refund, replacement or repair," Ms Rickard said in a statement today.
"The recalled Samsung washing machines fail to comply with the consumer guarantee of acceptable quality, as they have a major safety failure. In these circumstances, the consumers have a choice of remedy which is not overtaken by the electrical safety recall," Ms Rickard said.
In conducting its recall, Samsung offered consumers a repair (which it is entitled to do provided it fixes the problem). However, Samsung's offer of a repair doesn't diminish consumers rights to choose a remedy if the fault with the product is major.
CHOICE spoke with Ms Rickard to clarify whether consumers who had already received the repair from Samsung would be entitled to a refund or replacement. Ms Rickard confirmed the ACCC's position, saying: "If you're only offered a repair, you still have your right to exercise your consumer guarantees." That's the ACCC's position, but it may not be without contest, she said.
Any consumer still having trouble exercising their consumer guarantees should contact NSW Fair Trading, Ms Rickard said.
Samsung's repair involved covering the electrical wires with a plastic bag. Samsung has said it is "100% confident" with the fix, but some consumers remain concerned.
"The rework solution has been tested by an independent and certified testing body and has passed all required safety testing requirements. The rework solution has also been accepted as appropriate by NSW Fair Trading," a Samsung spokesperson told CHOICE.
Since the recall began, a little over half have been repaired, with some consumers getting a replacement or a refund.
Do you have a recalled Samsung washing machine?
Six Samsung washing machine models manufactured between 1 February 2010 and 28 February 2013 have been recalled.
Model name and number details can be found on the back of the washing machine. Affected models are:
Read more about what to do if you have a recalled machine on Samsung's FAQs.
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