My rights when shopping

Under the Australian Consumer Law, when you buy products and services they come with automatic guarantees that they will work and do what you asked for.  If you buy something and the Supplier fails to deliver any of the following guarantees, you may be entitled to a replacement, repair, refund or other remedy.

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Your rights

  • You are entitled to have use of the goods unaffected by anyone else’s legal rights to the goods. This means the goods sold to you must be legally free of any other possible owner. For example, it would be a breach of this right if you were sold stolen goods that the original owner could still claim.
  • You are entitled to goods that are of an acceptable quality. A good will be of an acceptable quality if it:
      • can be used in all the ways in which that type of good is usually used.
      • is safe and has no defects.
      • is durable (long-lasting).
      • is acceptable in appearance and finish.
  • The standard of whether a good is of acceptable quality will change depending on what the good is.  For example, a $5 plastic chair will not be judged by the same standard as a $200 luxury wooden chair. However, this guarantee will not apply if the Supplier drew your attention to any defects before you agreed to purchase the goods or if you damage the goods by abnormal use.
  • If the supplier tells you or suggests to you that the goods can be used for a certain purpose, they guarantee that you can use the goods for that purpose.
  • If you tell a supplier that you are purchasing the goods to be able to use the goods for a certain purpose and the goods are not able to be used for that purpose, you have Consumer rights to protect you. For example, you tell a salesperson that you need skis which are suitable for powder skiing and they recommend you a pair of skis. You then find out that those skis are only suitable for cross-country skiing and are useless on powder. You will have options available such as a replacement or refund.
  • Similarly, if you buy a service off someone and you tell them that you are buying that service for a particular reason, they guarantee that the service will reasonably serve the purpose you have told them. For example, if you hire cleaners from a cleaning company to get rid of all of the dust in your house because of your allergies, you tell them this and they agree, the cleaners guarantee that their cleaning will remove all dust (within reason).
  • If you buy goods by reference to a sample or a demonstration model of that good, the quality and condition of the goods must match the sample or demonstration model. For example, you go to buy a car and the sales person shows you a certain model of a car and explains all of the features of that model. You decide to order that particular model. You are entitled to have the car that you receive have all of the same features as the demonstration model that the sales person showed you.
  • If someone provides a service to you, they must do so with care and skill.  The Standard of care and skill that is required will depend on the situation.For example, if you hire a plumber to fix your plumbing and they flood your house, they may not be exercising care and skill and you may be able to make a claim for compensation.

Exceptions to guarantees

These Consumer guarantees do not apply if you:

  • got what you asked for but simply changed your mind, found it cheaper somewhere else, decided you did not like the purchase anymore or had no use for it.  Some shops may still offer you an exchange or refund in these circumstances but they are not legally obliged to do so.
  • misused the product in a way that cause the problem.
  • knew of or were made aware of any defects before you agreed to buy the product.
  • buy goods or services from a private seller (ie someone who doesn’t usually sell things).  For example, if you buy a second-hand billy cart off someone on gumtree or eBay (whether by auction or “Buy it Now” function) most of the Consumer guarantees would not apply.

For more information on how to make a claim if you think a Supplier of goods or services that you have purchased has breached any of these guarantees you can visit this site.

Summary of ACL guarantees

S 51 Guarantee as to title The person who supplies you the goods guarantees that they have the legal right to pass the ownership of the goods to you.  This does not apply if you are leasing or hiring something
S 52 Guarantee as to undisturbed possession The person who supplies you the goods guarantees that you can have possession of the goods uninterrupted by anyone else (unless they tell you otherwise before you agree to the purchase).
S 53 Guarantee as to undisclosed securities The person who supplies you the goods guarantees that no one else has any legal interest in the goods unless they tell you that there is such an interest in writing before you agree to the purchase.
S 54 Guarantee as to acceptable quality The person who supplies you the goods guarantees that the goods are of acceptable quality. Goods will be of an acceptable quality if they are:

    • able to be used in all the ways in which that type of good is usually used;
  • acceptable in appearance and finish;
  • safe and free from defects; and
  • durable (long-lasting).

The standard of whether a good is of acceptable quality will change depending on what the good is. For example, a $5 plastic chair will not be judged by the same standard as a $200 luxury wooden chair.

This guarantee does not apply if:

    • if the Sales person drew your attention to any defects before you agreed to purchase the good(s); or
  • you damage the good(s) by abnormal use.
S 55 Guarantee as to fitness for any disclosed purpose etc. If a supplier tells you or makes it obvious to you that the goods are able to be used for a certain purpose, they guarantee that the goods will be able to be used for that purpose.

Similarly, if you tell or make obvious to a supplier that you are purchasing the goods to be able to use the goods for something in particular and the goods are not able to be used for that, you have consumer rights to protect you.

S 56 Guarantee relating to the supply of goods by description Goods sold with a particular description must match that description.
S 57 Guarantees relating to the supply of goods by sample or demonstration model If you buy goods by reference to a sample or a demonstration model of that good, the quality and condition of the goods must match the sample or demonstration model.
S 58 Guarantee as to repairs and spare parts If you buy goods that require repairs or spare parts, the manufacturer of the goods must guarantee that they will make repairs and spare parts available for a reasonable period after you buy the goods.
S 59 Guarantee as to express warranties If the manufacturer or supplier makes a promise with respect to the goods (for example, that it will last 3 years), the manufacturer or supplier must guarantee that promise.
S 60 Guarantee as to due care and skill If someone provides a service to you (for example, repairing your sink and plumbing), they must do so with care and skill.
S 61 Guarantees as to fitness for a particular purpose etc. If someone provides you a service and you tell them that you are buying that service for a particular purpose, they guarantee that the service will reasonably serve that purpose you have told them.
S 62 Guarantee as to reasonable time for supply If you have arranged to have a service provided to you but have not agreed on when it should be provided by, the service must be provided within a reasonable period.

A supplier means someone who has provided you a service or supplied you a good (this includes through a sale, exchange, lease or hire).

Suppliers cannot “contract out” of these consumer guarantees.  This means that they can’t say in the fine print that they do not apply to your purchase.

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