Rights of Consumers when Unhappy with Products

Just about everyone has bought something that was not quite what they wanted. This will have often been due to the seller’s guarantee that the item could fill certain needs. Many people could probably give numerous reasons for being unhappy with their various purchases. It has also come to people’s minds to try to fix the situation. After all, there are rules in place to stop suppliers from taking advantage of their customers.

Consumers in Australia are protected by the Australian Consumer Law, which is also known as the ACL. The provisions of this law afford buyers a number of courses of action, should they buy something that isn’t what was promised. And these courses of actions can be taken against suppliers of goods, manufacturers, and even providers of credit. The following relates only to actions against suppliers.

What Can Consumers Do?

This largely depends how major the problem is. If it is a minor incident, and the seller is willing and able to provide a new product, it is good enough for the law. If the failure of the seller isn’t major, the customer might not even be able to ask for a refund and reject the goods. In case of a major failure on the part of the seller, the customer might be able to totally reject the product, and get a full refund of their money.

Often, the easiest thing to do is have the supplier fix whatever is wrong with the goods, or even replace them with suitable goods.

‘Major’ Failures

A major failure is when there is a serious issue with the goods. There are a number of different conditions required for it to be a major failure:

  • If a reasonable consumer, who knew about the failure in detail, would not have purchased the goods, it can be ruled as a major failure.
  • If the goods either don’t match the provided description, or they are different to a sample that was provided, or demonstration model.
  • If the goods are not as suitable as similar goods would be, and there is no easy way to fix them.
  • If the goods don’t do what the supplier, or whoever arranged to sell them, claimed they could.
  • If they are so low in quality that they are unsafe.
  • In addition, they must be so unfit for the guaranteed purpose, that there is no easy and relatively quick way to fix them.

Unfixable Major Failures

Whatever is wrong with the goods, if it is declared a major failure, the problem needs to be remedied within a reasonable time. If this is not possible, or it just does not happen, the consumer has a couple of courses of action:

  • They can legally notify the supplier of the goods, and tell them that they reject the goods. The consumer must also give their reasons for rejecting the goods.
  • The consumer can also get their money back, depending on how much the goods are realistically worth, compared to the price charged. This does not automatically mean that the consumer can get all of their money back, unless they are allowed to reject the goods completely.
Rights of Consumers when Unhappy with Products
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