Australian Consumer Law and your rights

A customer’s rights and abilities to seek reparations for faulty products are covered in Australia by Australian Consumer Law, which covers all states and territories and regulates fair trading and consumer protection.

What consumers need to know is that warranties issued by manufacturers do not restrict a customer’s rights – they don’t override or limit the Australian Consumer Law. Just because your warranty has expired, or a fault isn’t covered by the manufacturer, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not entitled to assistance or compensation from a retailer under Australian legislation.

The law states that:
  • Consumers have the right to ask for a repair, replacement or refund for goods that are faulty, unsafe, look unacceptable, or don’t work the way that they’re supposed to.
  • Australian consumers are entitled to a refund or replacement for a major failure and compensation for any other reasonably unexpected loss or damage.
  • Consumers are also entitled to have goods repaired or replaced if they are not of acceptable quality, even if there is no major failure.
  • For minor issues, businesses may choose whether to repair, refund or replace the faulty item, and any repairs must happen within a ‘reasonable time frame’.
  • For major problems, consumers are given the choice between a replacement or a full refund.

Phone manufacturers and telco providers must ensure the goods they sell are fit for purpose, match the description provided and any sample or demonstration models, and have the same qualities and level of performance that have been advertised or promised by the seller.

However, there is a downside – phone manufacturers do not have to provide a refund or replacement if the customer doesn’t have proof of purchase, has simply changed their mind, if they themselves have caused damage (intentionally or through obvious neglect), or the customer was aware of a fault prior to making the purchase. They may do so in a show of goodwill, but there is no legal requirement.

So to sum it all up, it’s important that you don’t rush into a purchase without comparing and understanding fully what it is you’ll be buying. You should be aware of the likely circumstances in which you’ll need repairs or assistance from your retailer or provider, and check you have adequate protection, either through your warranty or through additional insurance.

One last thing that may save you a lot of hassle down the line – make sure you keep your receipts!