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Nail your rights with the Australian Consumer Law 

31 May 2012

Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe is urging consumers to use their Australian Consumer Law rights to get justice in market transactions.

Mr Stowe said many people underestimated their rights as consumers and a recent case involving an acetone damaged handbag in a nail salon proved the importance of people knowing their rights.

“One consumer was having her nails done at a salon and her newly purchased red leather handbag was moved by a staff member to an area immediately under an acetone dispenser, where it was dripped on,” he said.

“Staff at the time tried to remove the acetone, went to a local shoe repairer and then told the customer there was nothing more they could do. They suggested the customer have the bag re-dyed and give them the bill.”

The customer was listening to the two Murrays on 2UE during a regular segment with the Fair Trading Commissioner and called in for advice. Mr Stowe told her that under the ACL, the salon had a duty of care and were responsible for the damage incurred.

The consumer then wrote to the manager of the nail salon asking for the bag to be replaced or for re-imbursement of the cost of the bag. She provided details of the manufacturer, the model number, colour and where it had been purchased. About two weeks later, she received a phone call to say the salon had a new handbag for her to collect at her earliest convenience.

Commissioner Stowe said more than 36,000 of the 42,000+ complaints received by Fair Trading in 2010/11 were matters covered by the Australian Consumer Law.

“Under the ACL, a consumer can claim compensation for consequential loss from a supplier who has failed to meet one or more consumer guarantees,” he said. “Guarantees apply to goods and services and include a guarantee that suppliers must provide services with due skill and care and must take all necessary care to avoid loss or damage when providing the service.

“Consequential loss is the cost to the consumer of a problem with goods or services. It is usually financial but can include other costs such as lost time or productivity. Compensation should put the consumer in the position they would have been in, if the goods or services met the consumer guarantee.”

The Commissioner said consequential loss issues often brought to Fair Trading included: cracked bench tops when plumbers were fitting taps; damaged guttering with roof repaints or restorations; and, damaged or soiled carpets when tradespeople entered homes.

“However, it’s important for people to know that when they have their goods damaged or they are damaged during service delivery relating to nails, waxing, tattoos and so on, they do have rights at law.”

For more information about Fair Trading go to the Fair Trading website.

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