As of January 2011, Australia welcomed a new consumer law – known as the ‘Australian Consumer Law’ (ACL) it was introduced to ensure that everyone in Australia (no matter which state/territory you live in) is covered by the same law. It’s almost six months on and through a quick snap poll around Melbourne, we found that most consumers in Australia didn’t know about the new law and what benefits it offers.
Why is the new law better? Well to start off, there is consistency throughout all of Australia, which minimizes confusion as the ACL replaced 20 existing state, commonwealth and territory laws. In addition, the new law is easier to enforce because the law is the same.
As legislation tends to be worded very difficult, we have provided a quick run down on the new law and what it means for you!
Q. So what does the new law mean for consumers?
*Regardless of the location of the supplier, consumers are now covered by the same law – which makes the complaint handling process easier to manage.
*The new consumer guarantee – means that even if a good doesn’t have a warranty, consumers can still get refunds, replacements or repairs. If they fall within the below categories:
*Not fit for the purpose for which they are commonly supplied; that is, they do the job that type of thing is usually used for
*They are not safe, durable and free from defects, and
*Not acceptable in appearance and finish.
Q. How does the new consumer guarantee affect my business?
The new consumer guarantee means that organisations cannot display signs that read ‘NO REFUNDS’, as this is considered unlawful and implies that the consumer guarantee is not covered. Instead you must say ‘NO REFUNDS IF YOU HAVE SIMPLY CHANGED YOUR MIND’ – as this demonstrates that although the consumer guarantee exists, the refund can ONLY be provided if the item wasn’t fit for purpose, not deemed safe or acceptable in appearance and finish.
Because most businesses don’t know about this, it is likely that some businesses maybe unintentionally breaking the law!
Q. Should I bother with extended warranties?
Often when you buy a high involvement or a expensive item, you are offered the chance to buy an extended warranty. The advantage of an extended warranty is that your product is covered once the traditional warranty period has ended – therefore, technically without the extra warranty, your purchase would not have been covered if the product failed.
This is NO LONGER true. The consumer guarantees provide rights that exist despite anything the supplier or manufacturer says. As a result it is illegal, if a business pressures a consumer to buy an extended warranty or tells a consumer that they must pay for any rights equivalent to a consumer guarantee.
IMPORTANT: When selling extended warranties, businesses need to explain what the extended warranty provides above the consumer’s rights under the consumer guarantees – ie. does it cover accidental damage (which is something the consumer guarantee doesn’t cover.) Any misleading information is unlawful and can result in both civil and criminal damages being awarded.
Q. Where can I get more information?More information regarding the Australian Consumer Law can be found by visiting the ACL website.
Julia Taine, Executive Director of Vent2Me, is a marketing problem solver and mentor. A mover and a shaker, Julia sees a niche in an industry, and takes it, by making it her own. Julia started Vent2Me, because people she knew were struggling with their online presence and their digital strategies. Julia knew she could help these people, and so here she is today.