Consumer guarantees

Under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), most products and services bought in Australia (from 1 January 2011) come with automatic guarantees that it will work and do what you asked for. Businesses must provide these automatic guarantees regardless of any other warranties they give to you or sell you.

If a business fails to deliver any of these guarantees, you have consumer rights for:

  • repair, replacement or refund
  • cancelling a service
  • compensation for damages and loss.

Go to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) website for information on your rights when things go wrong with products or services bought before 1 January 2011.

Guarantees on products

Products must be of acceptable quality, that is:

  • safe, lasting, with no faults
  • look acceptable
  • do all the things someone would normally expect them to do.

Acceptable quality takes into account what would normally be expected for the type of product and cost.

Products must also:

  • match descriptions made by the salesperson, on packaging and labels, and in promotions or advertising
  • match any demonstration model or sample you asked for
  • be fit for the purpose the business told you it would be fit for and for any purpose that you made known to the business before purchasing
  • come with full title and ownership
  • not carry any hidden debts or extra charges
  • come with undisturbed possession, so no one has a right to take the goods away or prevent you from using them
  • meet any extra promises made about performance, condition and quality, such as life time guarantees and money back offers
  • have spare parts and repair facilities available for a reasonable time after purchase unless you were told otherwise.

Guarantees on services

Services must:

  • be provided with acceptable care and skill or technical knowledge and taking all necessary steps to avoid loss and damage
  • be fit for the purpose or give the results that you and the business had agreed to
  • be delivered within a reasonable time when there is no agreed end date.

What products and services are guaranteed?

Businesses must guarantee products and services they sell, hire or lease for:

  • under $40,000
  • over $40,000 that are normally bought for personal or household use.

Business vehicles and trailers are also covered, regardless of cost, if they are used mainly to transport goods.

Consumer guarantees on products and services also apply to:

  • bundled products and services
  • gifts with proof of transaction like a receipt, invoice or credit card statement
  • sale items
  • online products and services bought from Australian businesses
  • second-hand products from businesses, taking into account age and condition.

Exceptions to guarantees

Consumer guarantees do not apply if you:

  • misused a product in any way that caused the problem
  • got what you asked for but changed your mind or saw it cheaper elsewhere
  • knew of or were made aware of the faults before you bought the product
  • bought a one-off item from a private seller, for example at a garage sale or fete
  • plan to on-sell or change the product so that you can re-supply it as a business.

Fit for a particular purpose

This guarantees that services will be reasonably fit for any purpose specified by the customer and that any resulting products are also fit for that purpose.

Example: A customer asks a carpenter to build a carport to cover his 4WD vehicle, which is 2 metres wide. If the carpenter builds a 1.8m-wide carport that does not cover the car, the carpenter will not have met the ‘fit for purpose’ guarantee.

Suppliers guarantee that services, and any resulting products, are of a standard expected to achieve the results that the customer said they wanted.

Example: A customer tells her ophthalmic surgeon that she wants to be able to drive without glasses. She is assessed as suitable for laser surgery and undergoes the procedure. If her vision does not meet the standard for driving without glasses, the surgeon will not have met the fit for purpose guarantee.

This guarantee will not protect the customer if they did not rely, or it was unreasonable for them to rely, on the service provider's skill or judgement when agreeing to particular services.

Example: It may not be reasonable for a consumer to rely on a receptionist in a large service company for advice about which service is suitable.

Are there any industries where this guarantee does not apply?

This guarantee does not apply to professional services provided by a qualified architect or engineer.

However, an architect or engineer who provides a service outside their area of professional expertise – for example, building services – must still meet the guarantee.

Architects or engineers must provide services with due care and skill.

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