Consumer guarantees for products

What is a consumer guarantee?

The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) automatically gives consumers' rights when they buy goods and services. These are called consumer guarantees.

warranty is different from a consumer guarantee. It is a voluntary promise to the consumer from the seller, manufacturer or supplier. Warranties are separate and do not replace ACL consumer guarantees.

These consumer guarantees for products apply automatically:

  • for products:
    • acceptable quality
    • products will match description or sample
    • products will be fit for purpose
    • title, possession and security
    • repairs and spare parts

Consumer guarantees for goods apply to:

  • anything that costs $40,000 or less
  • anything for personal or household use, regardless of price
  • vehicles and trailers.

Consumer guarantees for goods do not apply to:

  • goods bought before 1 January 2011 (covered under previous laws)
  • goods used for a business and cost over $40,000
  • one-off sales by private sellers (but guarantees about clear title still apply)
  • auctions where the auctioneer is the owner’s agent
  • goods that are on-sale or on re-supply
  • goods that a business plans to use during a production or repair process.

If businesses don’t meet these guarantees, they must attempt to correct any failure. This might be a refund, repair, replacement or compensation for the drop in value of the product.

Acceptable quality

A business guarantees that goods will be of acceptable quality. This means they must:

  • be fit for purpose
  • look acceptable
  • have no defects
  • be safe
  • be durable.

Acceptable quality looks at:

  • the type of goods
  • the price paid
  • any claims made on the packaging or labels
  • anything the business or salesperson claim about the goods.

This guarantee does not apply if:

  • the goods are bought privately or at auction
  • the business or salesperson points out any defects before the sale
  • the defect must be clear when first seeing the goods
  • the consumer misuses the goods.

Accurate description

A business guarantees that their description of goods is accurate. The business cannot argue that a consumer inspected the goods before buying them and should have noticed any errors in the description.

This guarantee does not apply to private and auction sales.

Samples or demonstration models

A business guarantees that goods will match any sample or demonstration model the consumer was shown.

This guarantee does not apply to private and auction sales.

Fit for purpose

A business guarantees that goods will be fit for purpose. This means that the goods will do what they are designed to do and anything that the business or salesperson claims it can do.

Consumers may also want goods to do a specific job. Businesses must guarantee that the product bought will be suitable, if you:

  • clearly tell them how you want to use the goods, and
  • rely on the business or salesperson's knowledge.

This guarantee does not apply when:

  • the goods are bought privately or at auction
  • the business can prove the consumer did not rely on their skill or judgment
  • the consumer should have known not to rely on the businesses or salesperson’s skill or judgement.

Spare parts and repairs

Manufacturers and importers guarantee they will provide spare parts and repair items. This must occur in a reasonable time after you buy the goods.

How much time is 'reasonable' will depend on the type of goods. For example:

  • spare parts and repairs for a new car should be available for many years
  • spare parts for an inexpensive children's toy are not likely to be available at all.

This guarantee does not apply if:

  • the goods are purchased privately or at auction
  • the consumer were told in writing, that repairs and spare parts are only available for a certain time.

The businesses' promises (express warranties)

A business guarantees that any extra promises they make on top of the usual consumer guarantees will be satisfied. These might be promises about the quality, state, condition, performance or characteristics of goods. These are called 'express warranties'.

A business might also provide a 'warranty against defects' (also called a 'manufacturer’s warranty'). It makes a promise to provide a remedy if something goes wrong with the goods. This is different from an express warranty.

This guarantee does not apply to private and auction sales.

Ownership (clear title)

A business guarantees they have 'clear title'—the right to sell the goods.

If a third party has placed a mortgage or security on the goods, this would mean the seller has ‘limited title’. This is usually because the seller owes money to the third party.

This guarantee also applies to private and auction sales.

This guarantee does not apply if the business tells the consumer they only have limited title before they sell you the goods.

Available to use (undisturbed possession)

A business guarantees that no one will:

  • take back the goods
  • prevent you from using them
  • limit how you use them (except for illegal uses).

This guarantee also applies to private and auction sales.

This guarantee does not apply if:

  • the consumer does not meet their obligations under the sale, hire or lease contract
  • the consumer was aware the business only had limited title when you bought the goods
  • the consumer was aware when you bought the goods that another person had a security interest over them
  • the consumer hired or leased the goods and the hire or lease has ended.

No debts or hidden charges (free from hidden securities)

A business guarantees that the goods do not have hidden securities or charges, and this will not change. This means that if a business cannot sell goods with ‘limited title’, without telling the consumer first.

This guarantee also applies to private and auction sales.

Exceptions

This guarantee does not apply if:

  • the security was placed on the goods with your permission
  • an existing security was brought to the consumer’s attention in writing before buying the goods

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