Faulty gifts a common problem after Christmas, warns ACCC

Date:Jan 31, 2019

Christmas may be fading far into the rear-view mirror, but January is still a common time for people to suffer injuries and illnesses from faulty products they received as gifts during the festive season.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said Christmas is one of the busiest shopping seasons of the year, so people should educate themselves on their rights if any presents they bought or received are unsafe.

Last year, the ACCC revealed that 10 Australians are injured every day due to dangerous products, with suppliers recalling approximately 4.5 million items in the 2017-18 financial year.

The organisation also recorded a 17 per cent year-on-year rise in the number of requests from consumers about product guarantees between 2017 and 2018. Cars, white goods, electronics and clothing are among the most common items that people contact the ACCC about.

What are my rights as a consumer?

If a product turns out to be faulty, the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) will apply, which means individuals are entitled to a remedy, repair, replacement or refund on their purchase.

Unsafe products that could cause injury or death are considered major failures, enabling the consumer to select their preferred remedy. However, the ACCC warned that retailers have been known to mislead customers who try to return their goods or receive a refund.

False statements that retailers may try is:

  • The product is out of warranty: The ACL and manufacturers' warranties are separate, so consumers may be entitled to a remedy under ACL guidelines even when the warranty has expired.
  • The manufacturer is responsible: The retailer that sold the item must help consumers, rather than pass the blame on to suppliers or manufacturers.
  • Sale items aren't covered by guarantees: The ACL applies to discounted items in the same way as full-price products.

"A key trick we always tell people is to use the words 'Australian Consumer Law' when returning a faulty product so the retailer knows you're aware of your rights," said ACCC Acting Chair Roger Featherston.

Can I claim compensation for faulty products?

The ACL provides legal recourse for people to claim compensation if they are injured or become ill due to a defective product purchased or received in Australia.

Legal action must be commenced within three years of the injury or illness occurring, so it's important to contact an experienced product liability lawyer as quickly as possible to discuss your claim.

Get in touch with one of our experts at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers today to see how we can help.

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