Many of us know that when we buy a product, say a TV, the store will often offer us an extended warranty – an extra 1, 3 or 5 year ‘protection’ if it breaks down / stops working after the store warranty ends (usually a year). And often, like any insurance, we feel pressured to buy it, ‘just in case’ it stops working e.g. 1 year and 1 day after you bought it.
However, the Australian Consumer Law (*see below) already provides you with a ‘built in’ protection –called a Consumer Guarantee. One of the Consumer Guarantees means (in very basic summary) that a product must be ‘fit for the purpose’ that you bought it for. So if you bought a TV / washing machine etc and it dies 1 day after the extended store warranty ran out, then the built-in Consumer Guarantee could work to protect you.
You could usually go back to the shop that sold it to you and tell them to fix it or replace it. This is because a TV / washing machine should clearly last for longer that 1 year and 1 day- so it wasn’t ‘fit for the purpose’ that you bought it for if it died just after a year. No expensive extra warranty, just the Australian Consumer Law working in your favour.
There are also Consumer Guarantees that apply to people providing services to you. Again, one of them is that the services must be ‘fit for the purpose’ (there are others) and must be provided with ‘acceptable care and skill’ e.g. someone built you a wall, and it fell down. Not a great wall, clearly not fit for purpose, and probably not provided with acceptable care and skill.
And it get’s better, as of 1 July 2021. This is because the Consumer Guarantees used to be (generally) limited to products or services under $40,000. The idea was to protect the smaller consumer. But as of 1 July 2021, the limit goes up to $100,000. So if a contractor builds you a really big wall, and it falls down, or your fabulous $50,000 TV (?!) dies, you can use the Consumer Guarantees to get it replaced/fixed.
There are rules around when the Consumer Guarantees apply, and to who, so it is important to look at the details. A good starting point is the ACCC website factsheet: https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees/consumer-guarantees
Also, just be aware that the Consumer Guarantees may not cover everything a store warranty covers, so you may still wish to buy a store warranty. For run of the mill issues however, I have always found that referring to the Australian Consumer Law Consumer Guarantee (*tip – take along a print-out of the factsheet) will get my problem fixed for free.
If you have any questions, feel free to give me, or any of my senior dispute resolution colleagues (Rick Cullen, Greg Paull, Rebecca Conder, Laura Thurston or Joshua Burton) a call on 9389 3999 and we can have an initial no-fee chat to point you in the right direction.
*The Australian Consumer Law is legislation that is designed to protect consumers when buying products or services. The main legislation is part of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2020C00241