CONSUMER LAW – MISLEADING STATEMENTS ABOUT CONSUMER WARRANTIES
Businesses need to be mindful that a breach of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) can occur by the making of misleading statements about the extent of or the availability of a consumer guarantee of acceptable quality for goods sold.
In the 2018 case of ACC-v-LG Electronics Australia Pty Ltd, the Court highlighted how an initial email exchange between a supplier and a consumer may result in misleading and deceptive conduct by the manufacturer.
For instance, if you were to say in response to a query as to whether a repair of a consumer good is out of warranty when in fact it is not, then that is a breach of the ACL. The tricky part of course is when no one is really sure of the extent (as to time) of the guarantee of acceptable quality. The ACL does not provide any specific timeframe for consumer goods to be of acceptable quality as it depends on many factors including the price of the goods, the price point and what a consumer may reasonably expect the warranty period to be.
It may be that the time under the ACL is more extensive than the manufacturer’s express warranty.
The best thing for businesses to do is to have a documented set of procedures and policies in place so that staff are properly trained and know how to respond to consumer inquiries.