What if I can’t repair the goods?
If a supplier cannot repair the goods—for instance, because the supplier does not have parts—or cannot do so within a reasonable time, the consumer can:
- reject the goods and seek either a refund or replacement; or
- have the goods fixed elsewhere and claim reasonable costs from the supplier.
Several buttons came off a consumer’s new shirt due to poor stitching. The tailor who made the shirt could not supply matching buttons. The consumer is entitled to ask for a replacement or refund.
How long do I have to fix the goods?
You must fix the problem within a reasonable time. What is ‘reasonable’ will depend on the circumstances.
A supplier would be expected to respond quickly to a request for a repair to an essential household item, such as a water heater. For goods used less often, such as a lawnmower, the reasonable time for repair would be longer.
What if I refuse, or take too long to repair the goods?
If you refuse or take more than a reasonable time to repair the goods, the consumer can:
- take the goods elsewhere to be fixed and ask you to pay the reasonable costs of this repair;
- reject the goods and ask for a refund; or
- reject the goods and ask for a replacement, if one is reasonably available.
There are some restrictions on this, see the returns goods page.
You cannot reduce a refund when the consumer has brought the goods back without their original packaging. See refund.
Consumer guarantees will also apply to replacement goods.
When the consumer takes goods elsewhere for repair
If the consumer has no option but to take goods elsewhere for repair, they do not have to get your agreement or provide quotes. However, you only have to pay the ‘reasonable costs’ of repair.
A reasonable cost would be within the normal range charged by repairers of such goods, and include:
- the cost of the repair; and
- any other associated costs incurred by having the goods fixed elsewhere, such as transport costs.
The zip on a pair of trousers breaks after one week. The retailer tells the consumer the repair will take a month. The consumer explains he needs the trousers for work urgently but the retailer offers no other option. The consumer gets the zip replaced by a tailor for $25. When the consumer asks the retailer to pay for this, the retailer says that their tailor would have done it for $20. If the higher price is a normal price for a tailor to fix the trousers, the retailer would have to reimburse the consumer.
Prescribed requirements for repairs of consumer goods
From 1 July 2011, a repairer of goods (whether or not this is the supplier) must notify the consumer of particular information before accepting the goods for repair:
- The repairer must tell the consumer if the repairer intends to replace defective goods with refurbished goods of the same type rather than repairing the problem with the original goods, or to use refurbished parts to repair the goods. The ACL Regulations prescribe certain wording about refurbished goods.
- For goods capable of storing data created by the user of the goods (user-generated data), the repairer must advise the consumer that repairing the goods may result in loss of the data. User-generated data includes, for example, songs, photos, telephone numbers and electronic documents.
Repairers that fail to comply may face
- a civil penalty of $50,000 for a body corporate and $10,000 for an individual;
- a criminal penalty for the same amount;
- an infringement notice; or
- legal action (for example, an injunction) by either a consumer protection agency or the consumer.
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