Know your consumer rights

Consumer rights highlighted by Choice

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Bought a dud? Here's what to do.

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HAVE you forked over your hard earned cash for something only to discover you've bought a lemon?

Consumers have rights if a product they've bought turns out to be a dud or faulty.

Consumer watchdog Choice is reminding Australians that they're protected by Australian Consumer Law and outlining what they means.

"Sometimes it's hard to keep track of exactly what your rights are, and what you're entitled to if something goes wrong," said the organisation's consumer rights expert, Amy Pereira.

If a product fails, you are entitled to either a repair, replacement, or refund

"When you purchase a product, that product must meet consumer guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law. For example, the item must be fit for purpose and free of any defects. It should match the description on its packaging or on the website you purchased it from," said Ms Pereira.

"If a product that you've purchased doesn't work you have a right to a fair fix. If the problem is minor, the retailer can decide to offer a refund, repair or replacement. However, if you're facing a major problem, you get to choose between a refund or replacement."

Two or more minor faults can equal a major failure

"A recent addition to the consumer law says that if a product you've purchased has two or more minor failures, and you wouldn't have purchased the product if you knew about these failures, it's considered to have a major failure.

"This is really important as it means that you have more options when it comes to asking for a repair, refund or replacement. For example, if you face multiple problems with a new car, it's now much clearer that you should be offered a replacement or a refund," says Pereira.

Most extended warranties are useless

"Businesses will often try to convince you to buy an extended warranty, but in most cases you really don't need one. If an item you purchase is faulty, under the consumer law a retailer has to offer you a remedy. It's also good to know that your right to a remedy will remain in place for a reasonable amount of time after you've purchased something, even if the warranty has expired. If a company tries to sell you an extended warranty, ask them to explain what that warranty offers above and beyond your rights under the Australian Consumer Law," says Pereira.

"No refund" signs aren't enforceable

"A business can't opt out of the consumer law. Signs that say 'no refund' or 'no refund on sales items' are illegal, as they suggest that you aren't entitled to a refund under any circumstances. The consumer law says that you must be given a remedy for a faulty product," says Pereira.

Don't take no for an answer

"If you suspect that a retailer isn't treating you fairly, contact your state or territory's fair trading agency who can help you get a fair outcome. You can also report issues to the ACCC, as they have the power to take action against businesses that breach the consumer law," says Pereira.

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