Consumer guarantees

A consumer guarantee gives you a comprehensive set of rights for the products and services you purchase.

This page explains:

What's a consumer guarantee?

Under Australian Consumer Law, most products and services bought in Australia (from 1 January 2011) come with automatic consumer guarantees that the product or service you purchased will work and do what you asked for.

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.

Businesses must provide these automatic guarantees regardless of any other warranties they give or sell you. If a business fails to meet any of these guarantees, you have the right to:

  • a repair, replacement or refund
  • cancel a service
  • reimbursement for damages and loss.

For information on your rights for products or services bought before 1 January 2011, go to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) website.

The difference between a warranty and a consumer guarantee:

A consumer guarantee is an automatic right given to consumers buying a product or service. By exchanging money for the product/service, consumers are entitled to a product/service that is safe and without fault, that looks acceptable and performs as expected. If the product/service does not, consumers have a right to a repair, replacement or refund.

A warranty is a voluntary promise or commitment made by the business selling the product/service to you. When you buy the product/service, the warranty becomes a right. It operates in addition to a consumer guarantee.

Product guarantees

Products must be of ‘acceptable quality’, that is:

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

‘Acceptable quality’ means 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 (meaning the supplier has the right to sell the goods, and that you will own the product in full after purchase (unless otherwise stipulated))
  • 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 lifetime guarantees, and money back offers
  • have spare parts and repair facilities available for a reasonable time after purchase unless you were told otherwise.

Service guarantees

Services must:

  • be provided with acceptable care and skill or technical knowledge
  • be fit for 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.

When delivering a service, the business must take all necessary steps to avoid loss and damage.

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 (for example, a car or boat).

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 (for example, internet and modem)
  • 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.

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. For more information on architects or engineers, refer to the relevant industry associations.

Fit for 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.

See an example

A customer asks a carpenter to build a carport to cover his 4WD vehicle, which is two metres wide. If the carpenter builds a 1.8 metre 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.

See an example

A customer tells her eye 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.

See an 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.

Have a problem?

  1. Contact the business in the first instance and explain the problem. We have tips and sample letters to help you take the first step.
  2. If you’re unable to resolve the matter with the business, you can contact us on 13 32 20, or make a complaint online.

Further information

Contact us

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Send a general enquiry.

Who enforces Australian Consumer Law?

The following agencies enforce provisions relating to consumer goods and services:

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is responsible for financial products and services.

 
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