Goods that break soon after purchase are not OK

One of the most significant benefits of the Australian Consumer Law that came into force on 1 January 2011 was the creation of improved consumer guarantees on purchased goods.

Many of the consumer guarantee provisions are similar to the previously existing law (where they were called warranties). But there are some important changes. These include:

  • a requirement that goods be of ‘acceptable quality’ rather than the previous lower standard of ‘merchantable quality’
  • extension of guarantees on services to three jurisdictions that did not previously have them (Queensland, Tasmania and the ACT).

The requirement that goods are of acceptable quality now means

  • that goods must be fit for all their normal purposes – not just one of them as under previous law
  • that they must be free of defects not only at the time of purchase (the previous law) but also for a reasonable time after sale

A consumer cannot however claim a remedy if the seller pointed out the defects or other ways in which the goods failed the acceptable quality test before they bought them.

The ACCC has published a useful FAQ about the guarantees provisions.

Do you think the new laws have made a difference? Have you had any experiences trying to rely on the new law to assert your rights or those of your clients? Let us know.