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Consumer guarantee – goods will be fit for purpose
A supplier guarantees that the goods will do the job the consumer was told they would.
The ‘fit for purpose’ guarantee
A supplier guarantees that goods will be reasonably fit for any purpose that the supplier or the consumer specified – the goods will do the job the consumer was told they would.
This guarantee does not apply to goods bought at auction.
Supplier or manufacturer specifies purpose of goods
A supplier guarantees goods will be reasonably fit for any purpose that they told the consumer the goods would be fit for.
A keen diver buys a watch, which the supplier says will be suitable for diving. A couple of weeks later, she goes for her first dive wearing the new watch, only to surface and see the dial filled with water. She would have the right to a remedy from the supplier.
Consumer specifies purpose of goods
A consumer might want goods to do a specific job or achieve a specific purpose, different from the normal use or purpose of those goods.
A supplier guarantees that goods will be fit for such a special job or purpose if the consumer, before buying the goods:
- expressly or implicitly told the supplier what they wanted to use the goods for; and
- relied on the supplier’s knowledge or expertise when deciding whether the goods were suitable for that use or purpose.
A consumer tells a car dealer that he wants a car capable of towing his boat. The dealer sells him a car that the dealer says will do that job. The car’s normal purpose is to transport people but, as the consumer has told the dealer that he wants to use the car to tow a boat, then the car must be able to do so.
A consumer buys a middle-of-the range lawnmower, but does not mention to the supplier that she wants to use it to mow four hectares of land each week. Because she did not disclose her intended purpose, the lawnmower would only be expected to mow the lawn of an ordinary suburban house for several years without any significant problems. She cannot claim the lawnmower is not fit for purpose
When this guarantee does not apply
This guarantee does not apply if the supplier can show that:
- the consumer did not rely on the supplier’s skill or judgment when buying the goods; and
- under the circumstances, it was unreasonable for the consumer to have relied on the supplier’s skill or judgment (or lack of it).
A consumer tells a fellow customer at a discount department store that he wants a television capable of showing all available digital channels. The other customer tells the consumer that a particular television, “looks like one my dad bought, which I think does what you want”. After buying the television, the consumer discovers that it is analogue and will not capture digital signals. The consumer did not rely on the supplier when buying the goods, so is not entitled to a refund or exchange.
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