NWS Warranties, the Australian Consumer Law, the Consumer Guarantee, & You

Disclaimer. This document and any associated documents do not constitute legal advice.

The Australian Consumer Law (ACL), with its incorporated 'Consumer Guarantee', came into effect in January 2012, to standardise the various different State Fair Trading Acts into one uniform Australian law.

The ACL and its incorporated 'Consumer Guarantee' basically replace or override all the previous de facto industry standard 12 month RTB (Return To Base) Manufacturers' and similar warranties.

Under the ACL, most retail goods come with a Consumer Guarantee that cannot be excluded by your Reseller or the Manufacturer.

For those goods (products), if the item purchased has what the ACL defines as a ‘major' fault or shortcoming, you are entitled to either a replacement or a full refund by the Manufacturer or Reseller, and, possibly, compensation for any reasonably foreseeable loss or damage.

Major faults are -

  • Unacceptable quality
  • Not for fit for the intended purpose (as was described by customer at time of sale, or would be a reasonable assumption of purpose, eg a DVD player that didn't play DVDs)
  • Not matching the supplied sample or the product description
  • Some 'clear title' provisions

'Non-major' faults are any other faults.

For non-major faults, for a ‘reasonable' period after your purchase, ie the undefined Consumer Guarantee period (see below), based on the price, quality, and usage of the item, if the product has a fault, you are entitled to have the product and fault repaired.

The Reseller may choose to offer a replacement or refund, but you are not obligated to accept that offer, nor is the Reseller obligated to make such an offer.

NWS warranties do not cover 'major faults', but do cover remedying (fixing or replacing) all 'non-major' faults that would normally be covered by the ACL Consumer Guarantee.

And, as outlined below, most importantly, NWS warranties offer far more benefits than the statutory ACL Consumer Guarantee does.

The Consumer Guarantee (and NWS warranties) do not cover faults caused by user damage or environmental damage, or faults caused by the type or the level of usage not intended for that product and model (unless this possibly falls under one of the major fault categories, eg unacceptable quality).

How long is the Consumer Guarantee for a product?

Because of the multitude of products and complexity and variety of product pricing, the ACL DOES NOT DEFINE ANY CONSUMER GUARANTEE PERIOD for any product.

Instead, the ACL only outlines what factors should be taken into account when - individually - determining how long any particular Consumer Guarantee period for a product might be.

  • The product category
  • The price paid for the product
  • The intended use of the product

DEFINITION: The ACL Consumer Guarantee period, albeit undefined, is that period, based on the above factors, that a reasonable person would expect the purchased product to work without any fault, given its price and usage.

The only definitive way for a Consumer Guarantee period to be determined is by the courts in the case of a dispute between you and your Reseller or Manufacturer as to how long each of you think the Consumer Guarantee period should reasonably be.

Other Consumer Guarantee points to note -

  • A Reseller cannot insist that you deal (yourself) with the Distributor or Manufacturer. You can request that the Reseller does that for you.
  • For ACL and Consumer Guarantee claims, the faulty product does NOT have to be returned in its original packaging.

By and large, all this potential contention, legal, and other issues becomes moot (irrelevant) when a product is covered by a NWS warranty as the NWS warranty includes and subsumes all the Consumer Guarantee obligations of and for the Reseller.

Additional Warranties & Guarantees

'Warranty Against Defect'

Resellers, Distributors, and Manufacturers (and 3rd Party Warranty companies), can provide additional warranties and service above and beyond what the ACL Consumer Guarantee provides for.

A 'Warranty Against Defect' MUST offer the consumer more protection or better service or a longer period, than they would be entitled to under the ACL Consumer Guarantee. As all NWS warranties emphatically do.

A Reseller cannot attempt to sell a warranty that offers no more consumer protection than the basic ACL Consumer Guarantee.

'Express Guarantees'

In addition, Manufacturers or Resellers can offer an 'Express Guarantee' relating to a product.

An Express Guarantee guarantees that the product will do, or perform, something, or, won't do something, eg leak in 50m depth of water.

So, in the end, what does the ACL Consumer Guarantee provide?

Unlike what is frequently claimed on radio and current affair programs by various people, the ACL and the Consumer Guarantee (still) only provides -

  • An undefined, and potentially contentious, Consumer Guarantee period for any individual product.
  • Slow low priority service.
  • Slow low priority supply of replacement parts or products.
  • The need to return of faulty products by you to Reseller (with some exceptions).
  • The need to pick-up the repaired or replaced products from Reseller by you.

The ACL and Consumer Guarantee do not provide -

  • A Consumer Guarantee of any particular period for any product.
  • A high priority response and service.
  • Local on-site service.
  • Australia-wide local service.
  • A much longer warranty period.

But NWS premium warranties do.

Refurbished Parts or Items

The ACL explicitly provides for use of refurbished parts and products.

Faulty items or parts may be replaced by a refurbished item of the same or better type and specification if that is more practical than sourcing a new item, or is the only solution possible. Similarly, where necessary or practical, refurbished parts of the same or better specification may be used to repair the faulty item.

Data or Information Loss and/or Back-up

The ACL explicitly states that it is solely the consumer's responsibility for the back-up, copying, and protection of their data, information and product settings. The Consumer Guarantee does not cover the loss of user data or information or settings or configuration.

During any technical service, the loss of data (information, software, settings) can occur in unpreventable and unforeseen ways. The actual process of testing, identifying & rectifying a fault can lead to loss of data and settings, for example, if there is virus present, simply turning on the item could cause (further) damage or loss of data; similarly, if the hard disk is faulty, simply turning on the item could cause loss of or damage to data.

Therefore, although we take all due care during service, we do NOT cover the loss of data, software or settings, before, during, or after, any service.

You or your assigned or nominated agent are totally and wholly responsible for any backing-up of software, data, information or settings on the item to be serviced prior to any service.

Copyright NWS 2014 v1