By Caroline James
Consumer Affairs Australia New Zealand (CAANZ) has recently undertaken a comprehensive review of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), a law that forms part of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) and aims to provide vital protections to consumers.
Currently, a person is taken to have acquired goods as a consumer if:
except where, among other things, the person acquired the goods, or held himself or herself out as acquiring the goods for the purpose of resupplying them.
The ACL aims to protect consumers by providing them with automatic guarantees regarding the purchase of goods; including that the products must be of acceptable quality, match descriptions made by salespeople, on packaging, and in advertising and be fit for the purpose (as told to them by the seller).
In respect of services, the guarantee is that the services must be rendered with acceptable care and skill and be delivered within a reasonable time when there is no agreed end date.
Currently, the ACL says that where there is a major failure of a good, the consumer is entitled to have the product replaced or obtain a refund. Short of a major failure, a consumer is only entitled to have the item repaired or be compensated for the costs of repair. Remedies for faulty services include cancelling a service and/or compensation for damage and loss.
CAANZ have made recommendations about the ACL which will increase the current protections to “consumers who are most vulnerable or at a great disadvantage”.
Some of the recommendations are as follows:
This change will increase the number of businesses deemed to be consumers and assure them of certain minimum standards for the goods and services they purchase up to the $100,000 limit.
Although this recommendation would involve increased compliance costs for traders in developing and providing the additional information, CAANZ considers that these costs are likely to be outweighed by the benefits gained by helping consumers compare extended warranties with their existing legal rights and giving consumers the opportunity to consider their decision to purchase the extended warranty after they have purchased the good.
Consumer Affairs Ministers through the Legislative and Governance Forum on Consumer Affairs are considering the report and experts consider it highly likely that the majority of the recommendations proposed will be accepted by the Commonwealth government in 2018.
Watch this space for further updates on the progress of this report.