Have you ever sought to have a relatively new product repaired, only to be knocked back because the warranty expired a few weeks earlier or the product is not covered due to a warranty loophole? Have you been conned in to purchasing an extended warranty for rights and protections which you would have been afforded anyway under the law?
It is important to properly understand your rights when purchasing products to ensure you do not get taken advantage of and forced to cough up extra dough. We set out 4 crucial points that every consumer should know about their rights in relation to purchased products and the accompanying warranties.
Many products are sold with warranties – cars, phones, laptops and more. These warranties are often limited in nature and may include a vast array of exclusions in an attempt to prevent consumers relying on the warranties. What the average consumer may not know is that your rights extend past what is strictly contained in the warranty, with extra protections being afforded by the Australian Consumer Law (the ACL) and subsequent case law. Here are 4 points that will ensure you get the most out of these protections.
- Your ACL rights cannot be excluded/reduced by a warranty: Under the ACL, all warranties must state that “our goods come with guarantees that cannot be excluded under the Australian Consumer Law”. This means that a company cannot “contract out” of the guaranties provided for pursuant to the ACL – these guaranties are available to consumers regardless of the particular provisions in a warranty. These guaranties will be elaborated on in point 2. Know your ACL rights and ensure the warranty complies with them.
- You may be able to get the product repaired/replaced – even if the warranty has expired: A major protection afforded by the ACL is that the supplier must guarantee that the product is supplied is of “acceptable quality”. This means that there is a guarantee that a product will last for a length of time that could reasonably be expected for that particular product; regardless of how long the warranty applies for (or indeed whether there is a warranty at all!). In determining the length of this statutory guarantee, the nature of the goods, the price of the goods and any statements made about the quality or durability of the goods are taken into account. For example, if someone buys an expensive television of purported superior quality, with a reasonable expectation that it would last five years, they may have a statutory guarantee against the retailer that lasts substantially longer than the 12 month manufacturer’s warranty. If you think the product is supposed to last longer than it did, you may be entitled to have it repaired or replaced.
- It might be illegal for companies to charge for extended warranties: Often companies may offer the consumer the option to purchase an extended warranty; paying extra money to have the warranty length extended. However, in light of the ACL requirements, many experts have taken the view that extended warranties are essentially redundant, as consumers will often have legal protection against defects in the product beyond the manufacturer’s normal warranty anyway. Suppliers risk breaching the law if they mislead you into paying for rights that you already have under the consumer guarantees. Do not get sucked in to paying for protections which you already have under the ACL.
- The retailer cannot just handball you off to the manufacturer: The retailer who sold you the product cannot refuse to help you by sending you to the manufacturer or importer. You can approach the manufacturer or importer directly, however, you will only be entitled to recover costs from them, which include an amount for reduction in the product’s value and in some cases compensation for damages or loss. You cannot demand a repair, replacement or refund from the manufacturer. Do not let the retailer shirk the issue by sending you off to the manufacturer- you can insist on a remedy from the retailer!
In summary, you may be able to have your products repaired or replaced even if they are technically out of warranty- but it is important to be aware of your consumer rights and guarantees. If you have any queries relating to warranties and defective products, get in touch with the dedicated team at Warlows Legal today!