NOTE: If you arrived at this page without seeing a menu, please click on this link - www.ziggy.com.au - to open the entire Ziggy Zapata website in a new window.
The author asserts his right to publish this information in the public interest
No responsibility is taken for consequences resulting from using any information contained herein
EVERY BUYER NEEDS TO KNOW THIS
Are my goods covered by consumer guarantees?
Your goods are covered if they were:
Sold by a person or business in trade or commerce in the course of their business or professional activity, even non-profit activity, and
Bought by a consumer. This is a person who buys: any type of goods costing up to $40,000 or any other amount set by the Australian Consumer Law in future. For example:
- A photocopier or cash register
- A vehicle or trailer used mainly to transport goods. The cost of the vehicle or trailer is irrelevant
- Goods costing more than $40,000, which are normally used for personal, domestic or household purposes. For example, a car or landscaping design.
Your goods are covered even if they are second-hand, leased or hired.
Some consumer guarantees apply regardless of whether the goods are sold in trade or commerce – these are the guarantees that you are buying goods:
- With a clear title, unless told otherwise before the sale
- With a right to undisturbed possession – no-one has a legal right to take the goods away or prevent you from using the goods
- That do not carry any undisclosed securities – the goods do not have any hidden securities or charges.
What goods are not covered?
You will not be covered by consumer guarantees for goods:
- Bought before 1 January 2011. These are covered by laws that were in force before 1 January 2011
- Bought from one-off sales by private sellers, such as garage sales and fêtes
- Bought at auctions, where the auctioneer acts as agent for the owner
- Costing more than $40,000 that a person would normally buy for business use, for example, machinery and farming equipment
- You buy to on-sell or re-supply
You want to use, as part of a business, to:
- Manufacture or produce something else, for example, as an ingredient
- Repair or otherwise use on other goods or fixtures.
Who is responsible for fixing the problem with my goods?
Either the supplier or manufacturer, depending on what the problem is.
The supplier is the person or business who sold you the goods, for example, a retailer or a trader.
The manufacturer is the person or business who:
- Made the goods
- Put the goods together
- Has their name on the goods, or
- Imported the goods, if the maker does not have an office in Australia.
What do they guarantee about goods?
Both the supplier and the manufacturer guarantee that goods:
- Are of acceptable quality. This means they will be safe, durable and free from defects.
- They will be acceptable in appearance and finish, and do the job such things are usually used for.
- Match the description, they will match any description given to you
- Match the sample or demonstration model shown to you.
A supplier also guarantees that you are buying goods:
- With a clear title, unless they told you otherwise before the sale. This means they have the right to sell the goods, unless they told you before sale that they had 'limited title'
- A right to undisturbed possession, they promise no-one has a legal right to take the goods away or prevent you from using the goods
- That do not have any undisclosed securities, the goods do not have any hidden securities or charges
- Fit for any disclosed purpose, the goods will do the job you were told they would.
A manufacturer guarantees repairs and spare parts.
When goods do not meet these guarantees, the supplier or manufacturer must attempt to put the situation right - offer you a remedy. Common remedies are repairs, replacements and refunds.
When you cannot claim under consumer guarantees
A supplier or manufacturer does not have to put a situation right when they did not meet consumer guarantees due to something:
- Someone else said or did, unless it was their agent or employee, or
- Beyond human control that happened after the goods or services were supplied to you.
Can I get a refund, replacement or other compensation?
Whether you get a repair, replacement, refund or other ‘remedy’ depends on whether the problem is:
- Major – cannot be fixed or too difficult to fix
- Minor – can usually be put right.
You may also be able to claim for compensation for your costs in time and money because something went wrong with the goods.
For major problems with goods
- Reject the goods and get a refund
- Reject the goods and get an identical replacement, or one of similar value if reasonably available, or
- Keep the goods and get compensation for the drop in value caused by the problem.
You get to choose, not the supplier or manufacturer.
A major problem with goods is when:
- A reasonable person would not have bought the goods if they had known about the problem. For example, no reasonable person would buy a washing machine if they knew the motor was going to burn out after three months
- The goods are significantly different from the description, sample or demonstration model shown to you. For example, a person orders a red bicycle from a catalogue, but the bicycle delivered is green
- The goods are substantially unfit for their normal purpose and cannot easily be made fit, within a reasonable time. For example, a ski jacket is not waterproof because it is made from the wrong material
- The goods are substantially unfit for a purpose that you told the supplier about, and cannot easily be made fit within a reasonable time. For example, a car is not powerful enough to tow a consumer’s boat because its engine is too small – despite the consumer telling the supplier they needed the car to tow a boat.
- The goods are unsafe. For example, an electric blanket has faulty wiring.
For minor problems with goods
If the problem can be repaired within a reasonable time, you cannot immediately reject the goods and demand a refund.
You must give the supplier a chance to fix the problem. The supplier may choose to:
- Provide a refund
- Replace the goods
- Fix the title to the goods, if this is the problem
- Repair the goods. It is the supplier’s responsibility to return goods to the manufacturer for repair. If the cost of repairing the goods is more than the value of the goods, they can offer you a replacement instead.
How do I reject or return goods?
You must tell the supplier if you intend to reject goods, and explain why, and:
- Return the rejected goods to the supplier, or
- Ask the supplier to collect the rejected goods, if the goods cannot be returned without significant cost to you.
You cannot reject goods when:
- The goods have been thrown away, destroyed, lost or damaged through no fault of the supplier, after they were delivered to you
- The goods have been attached to other property and cannot be removed without damage. For example, removing wallpaper will damage it
- Too much time has passed. The right to reject the goods runs from the date of the supplier provided the goods to you, until the fault or problem would reasonably be expected to appear. This depends on:
- The type of goods
- How a consumer is likely to use the goods
- The length of time the goods could reasonably be used, and
- The amount of use the goods could reasonably be expected tolerate before the problem or fault became apparent.
You do not have to return goods with the original packaging.
Who is responsible for returned goods?
When you tell the supplier that you are returning the goods, the goods become the supplier’s property. They are responsible for any loss or damage to the goods from this time.
You must return the goods unless the cost of returning, removing or transporting is significant, for example, the size makes transportation costly. If so, the supplier must collect the goods at their own expense and within a reasonable time.
Examples of goods a supplier would have to collect:
- A 127 cm LCD TV
- A bed
- A swimming pool filter connected to a pool by fixed pipes
- An extension ladder stuck in the extended position.
Goods linked to a service
People often buy goods linked to certain services. An example is a mobile telephone, often linked to a contract for network services. This is sometimes called a ‘linked service contract’.
If you are returning goods within a reasonable time and are entitled to a refund, you can also cancel the linked service contract. You can do this when returning the goods, or within a reasonable time. These contracts do not automatically end.
For example: A consumer signs up for a package that includes a modem and internet access. She rejects the modem because it turns out to be faulty but chooses to keep her internet connection. Alternatively, she could reject the faulty modem and cancel the connection.
When you cancel a linked service contract, you are entitled to a refund or can refuse to pay for any services that you have not yet received.
The supplier does not have to give a refund for any services you received up to the time you rejected the goods. For example, a consumer subscribes to 12 editions of a cooking magazine for $200, including $80 for delivery. She receives only three editions in six months, so cancels the subscription and delivery. The supplier must refund $150 for nine magazines not received - $90 for the magazines and $60 for delivery.
REFUNDS AND REPLACEMENTS
How long can the supplier take to fix the goods?
They must fix the problem within a reasonable time. What is reasonable will depend on the circumstances. For example, a supplier would be expected to respond quickly to a request for a repair to an essential household item, such as a water heater. For goods used less often, such as a lawnmower, the reasonable time for repair would be longer.
What if the supplier refuses or takes too long to repair the goods?
If they refuse or take more than a reasonable time to repair the goods, you can:
- Take the goods elsewhere to be fixed and ask the original supplier to pay reasonable costs of this repair
- Reject the goods and ask for a refund, or
- Reject the goods and ask for a replacement, if one is reasonably available.
There are some restrictions – see How do I reject goods? (NSW Fair Trading Website)
What if the supplier cannot fix the goods?
If they cannot fix the goods – for instance, because they do not have the parts – or cannot do so within a reasonable time, you can:
- Reject the goods and seek either a refund or replacement, or
- Have the goods fixed elsewhere and claim reasonable costs from the supplier.
For example, several buttons came off a consumer’s new shirt due to poor stitching. The tailor who made the shirt could not supply matching buttons. The consumer is entitled to ask for a replacement or refund.
When you take goods elsewhere for repair
If you have no choice but to take goods elsewhere for repair, you do not have to get the supplier’s agreement or provide quotes. However, they only have to pay the reasonable costs of repair. A reasonable cost would be within the normal range charged by repairers of such goods, and include:
- The cost of the repair
- Any other associated costs due to having the goods fixed elsewhere, such as transport costs.
For example, the zip on a pair of trousers breaks after one week. The retailer tells the consumer the repair will take a month. The consumer explains he needs the trousers for work urgently but the retailer offers no other option. The consumer gets the zip replaced by a tailor for $35. When the consumer asks the retailer to pay for this, the retailer says that their dressmaker would have done it for $15. If the higher price is a normal price for a tailor (not a dressmaker) to fix the trousers, the retailer would have to reimburse the consumer.
Prescribed requirements for repairs of consumer goods
A repairer of goods – whether or not this is the supplier – must notify you of particular information before accepting the goods for repair, as follows:
- The repairer must tell you if they intend to replace defective goods or parts with refurbished goods or parts of the same type rather than repairing the problem with the original goods or parts.
- For goods capable of storing data (eg. mobile phones, computers) created by you (user-generated data), the repairer must advise you that repairing the goods may result in loss of the data. User-generated data includes, for example, songs, photos, telephone numbers and electronic documents.
Repairers that fail to comply may face:
- A civil penalty of $50,000 for a body corporate and $10,000 for an individual
- A criminal penalty for the same amount
- Legal action (for example, an injunction) by either a consumer protection agency or the consumer.
The person or business giving the refund must repay any money you paid for the returned goods, and return any other form of payment you made – for example, a trade-in. If this is not possible, they must refund the value of the item. They must not:
- Offer a credit note, exchange card or replacement goods instead of a refund. You cannot accept this kind of offer
- Refuse a refund, or reduce the amount, because the goods were not returned in original packaging or wrapping.
Can I get a refund if I change my mind?
A business does not have to give a refund if you simply change your mind about something you bought, unless they have a store policy to offer a refund, replacement or credit note when this happens.
Do I need a receipt or the original packaging?
A consumer who wants to make a claim against a supplier or manufacturer requires proof of purchase. The best proof of purchase is a receipt or tax invoice, however other examples are:
- A lay-by agreement
- A confirmation or receipt number provided for a telephone or internet transaction
- A credit card or debit card statement
- A warranty card showing the supplier’s or manufacturer’s details and the date or amount of the purchase
- A serial or production number linked with the purchase on the supplier’s or manufacturer’s database.
A business cannot refuse to give a refund, or reduce the amount, because you did not return the items in the original packaging or wrapping.
What if I received the goods as a gift?
You have the same rights as a person who has bought goods directly.
What about gift certificates?
Many traders offer gift certificates where consumers pay an amount of money and receive a certificate allowing them or another person to purchase goods or services to that value at a later date.
When purchasing gift certificates consumers should check whether there are any terms and conditions, such as ‘excluding sale items’. Traders must provide notice, preferably in writing, about these conditions and cannot impose conditions that were not stipulated at the time the certificate was purchased.
Consumers should also make sure that the gift certificate is kept in a safe place and treated like cash. Many certificates are not recorded with details of the purchaser so anyone can return and use the certificate. If the certificate is lost, consumers may not be able to redeem them.
If a dispute arises with respect to a gift certificate the matter would need to be addressed by the purchaser of the certificate, as the recipient does not have a contract with the trader. Similarly, if a complaint is made to Fair Trading it would have to be lodged by the purchaser of the gift certificate.
The person or business giving the replacement must provide goods of the same type and similar value. If such a replacement is not reasonably available, you may choose a repair or a refund.
You must return goods to them. If this involves significant cost, they must collect the goods at their own expense.
The consumer guarantees that applied to the original goods will apply to the replacements.
For example, a consumer buys a new mobile phone. Due to a problem, the supplier replaces it. Consumer guarantees apply to the replacement phone as if it were a new mobile phone.
Life Expectancy of Appliances
Budget / entry level: 6 years
Mid-range: 9 years
High-end: 13 years
Budget / entry level: 5 years
Mid-range: 8 years
High-end: 11 years
Budget / entry level: 4 years
Mid-range: 6 years
High-end: 8 years
Budget / entry level: 10 years
Mid-range: 15 years
High-end: 20 years
Budget / entry level: 2 years
Mid-range: 4 years
High-end: 6 years
Budget / entry level: 5 years
Mid-range: 8 years
High-end: 11 years