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Consumer guarantees on goods

Which goods are covered and what guarantees apply.

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Which goods are covered?

Goods are covered when sold in trade or commerce and bought by a consumer. Second-hand, leased or hired goods are also covered.

Some consumer guarantees apply regardless of whether the goods are sold in trade or commerce – these are the guarantees that a consumer is buying goods:

  • with a clear title, unless told otherwise before the sale;
  • with a right to undisturbed possession – no-one has a legal right to take the goods away or prevent them from using the goods; and
  • that do not carry any undisclosed securities – the goods do not have any hidden securities or charges.

Trade or commerce means in the course of a supplier’s or manufacturer’s business or professional activity, including a non-profit business or activity.

A consumer is a person who buys:

  • any type of goods or services costing up to $40,000, or any other amount set by the Australian Consumer Law in future – for example, a photocopier or cash register;
  • a vehicle or trailer used mainly to transport goods. The cost of the vehicle or trailer is irrelevant; or 
  • goods or services costing more than $40,000, which are normally used for personal, domestic or household purposes – for example, a car or landscaping design.

The following goods are not normally used for personal, domestic or household purposes:

  • an airseeder (Jillawara Grazing Co v John Shearer Ltd (1984) ATPR 40-441);
  • a large tractor (Atkinson v Hasting Deering (Queensland) Pty Ltd (1985) 6 FCR 331); or  
  • an industrial photocopier (Four Square Stores (Qld) Ltd v ABE Copiers Pty Ltd (1981) ATPR 40-232 at 43,115).

Which goods are not covered?

Goods not covered by consumer guarantees include those:

  • bought before 1 January 2011. These are covered by statutory implied conditions and warranties under the Trade Practices Act 1974 and state and territory legislation in force before 1 January 2011;
  • bought from one-off sales by private sellers, such as garage sales and fêtes;
  • bought at auctions, where the auctioneer acts as agent for the owner;
  • costing more than $40,000 that a person would normally buy for business use - for example, machinery and farming equipment;
  • a person buys to on-sell or re-supply; or 
  • a person wants to use, as part of a business, to:
    • manufacture or produce something else, for example, an ingredient; or  
    • repair or otherwise use on other goods or fixtures.

What consumer guarantees apply to goods?

Both supplier and manufacturer guarantee that goods:

  • are of acceptable quality - they will be safe, durable and free from defects. They will be acceptable in appearance and finish, and do the job that type of thing is usually used for;
  • will match any description given to the consumer; and  
  • will satisfy any extra promises made about them (express warranties).

A supplier also guarantees the consumer is buying goods:

  • fit for any disclosed purpose - the goods will do the job the consumer was told they would;
  • with a clear title, unless the supplier told the consumer otherwise before the sale;
  • a right to undisturbed possession – the supplier promises no-one has a legal right to take the goods away or prevent the consumer from using the goods;
  • that match the sample or demonstration model; and 
  • that do not have any undisclosed securities – the goods do not have any hidden securities or charges.

A manufacturer guarantees that repairs and spare parts will be available for a reasonable time after purchase.

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