Your consumer rights under the ACL

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Under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), products you buy from an Australian seller are covered by 'consumer guarantees'. These apply to:

  • new and second-hand products
  • sale items
  • items bought from an Australian seller online.

Note:  if you bought an item online from a private seller (not engaged in trade or commerce), not all the consumer guarantees apply. While ACL guarantees apply to purchases made in Australia as well as to traders overseas delivering to Australia, taking action against overseas businesses is not always possible. You may have other avenues of redress, however, especially if you purchased the item using an Australian credit card – see your provider for more information.

Acceptable quality/faulty

A product must be of acceptable quality; that is:

  • fit for the purpose for which it is commonly supplied
  • safe, durable and free from defects
  • acceptable in appearance and finish.

You are generally entitled to a remedy on a product if it:

  • does not do what it is normally supposed to – for example, your toaster does not toast bread
  • has a defect – for example, your toaster's timer knob falls off soon after you buy it
  • is unacceptable in appearance or finish – for example, your toaster has scratches 
  • is unsafe – for example, sparks fly out of your toaster whenever you use it
  • breaks down before you would reasonably expect it to.

You must take into account:

  • the type of product – for example, a large appliance such as a fridge is expected to last longer than a toaster
  • the price – for example, a cheap toaster may not be expected to last as long as a top-of-the-range one
  • any statements about the product on its packaging or label – for example, the toaster box shows a special defroster function
  • any statements about the product by the seller or manufacturer, either in person, in print or online – for example, the salesperson said the crumb tray was easy to detach and clean
  • any other relevant circumstances.

Damage to other property

You can seek compensation from the store or manufacturer when a faulty product causes damage to other property belonging to you.

The loss or damage must have been reasonably foreseeable and not caused by something outside human control, such as a natural disaster.

For example:

  • Michelle buys a café-quality blender, but the blades snap after only two weeks of using it to make fruit drinks. The product is not of acceptable quality, it is faulty.
  • A faulty toaster sets fire to Ben’s kitchen. Ben is entitled to compensation to make up for that loss and damage, not just to a refund for the faulty toaster.
  • Linda buys a car, which leaks oil on her driveway. A neighbour’s dog runs through the oil and into her house, dirtying the carpet. The car dealer does not have to pay for carpet cleaning, as the dealer could not predict that a dog would run through the oil and into the house – the damage was not 'reasonably foreseeable'.

Match the description

The product must match the description (for example, on its label or packaging, in a TV commercial, or on the website).

Any faults present at the time of sale must be indicated (for example, on a tag or in photos or the item description online).

Even if you inspected the product before buying it and could have noticed a difference between the product and its description, the product must still match that description.

You are generally entitled to a remedy on a product if it:

  • is significantly different from the description – this may be considered a major problem and you are entitled to a refund or replacement.

For example:

  • Nicki buys a scarf described as ‘woollen’ in the store’s promotional catalogue. When she gets home, she discovers the scarf is actually acrylic. The product does not match its description, so Nicki returns it for a full refund.

Match the quality of any sample or demonstration model

Generally, when you buy something based on a sample or demo model, the product must match that sample and be free from defects that are not apparent even upon examination.

The seller must give you a reasonable amount of time to compare the product with the original sample, where available.

You are generally entitled to return a product if it:

  • is significantly different from the sample or demo model – this may be considered a major problem and you are entitled to a refund or replacement.

For example:

  • Janice goes into a store to look for a leather lounge. Once home, she decides on a lounge and orders it from their online store. When it is delivered, she finds that the leather is of a poorer quality than the sample in the store. The product does not match the original sample.

Fit for purpose specified

The product is reasonably fit for any purpose specified by the customer and agreed by the seller, at the time of sale.

You are generally entitled to a remedy on a product if it:

  • does not do what you specifically asked for
  • does not do what the salesperson said it would do. This advice may have been provided in person, over the phone, or via an email or message.

For example:

  • Luke buys a watch, which the salesperson says will be suitable for diving. A couple of weeks later, he goes for a dive wearing his new watch and it fills up with water. Luke would not have bought the watch if he could not wear it diving. The watch does not do what the salesperson said it would, so Luke has the right to return it for a full refund.

Right to sell the product and pass good title

The seller must have the right to sell the product and pass good title to the customer.

The seller must ensure that no one is entitled to repossess or take back the product (for example, if it was stolen or sold without the owner’s consent) and that there is no money owning on the product.

You are generally entitled to a remedy on a product if:

  • the seller knew the product was stolen (and you were not aware)
  • the seller knew there was money owing on the product.

For example:

  • Nathan buys a used car from a licensed car dealer. It is later repossessed by the police because it turns out it was stolen. The trader did not give Nathan 'clear title' to the product.

Repairs and spare parts are available

Repairs and spare parts must be available for a reasonable amount of time.

You are generally entitled to remedy on a product if:

  • you have to wait an unacceptably long period of time for a repair
  • the supplier cannot repair the item

What a repairer must tell you

A repairer—whether or not this is the supplier—must notify you if they intend to:

  • replace defective goods with refurbished goods of the same type rather than repairing the problem with the original goods; or 
  • use refurbished parts to repair the goods. There is particular wording they must use about refurbished goods.

For goods capable of storing data created by the user of the goods—for example, songs, photos, telephone numbers and electronic documents—the repairer must tell you that repairing the goods may result in loss of the data.

For example:

John buys a new camera. Six months later, the camera stops working. John discovers the camera was a discontinued model, and the manufacturer cannot access spare parts to fix his camera. The manufacturer did not ensure that repairs and spare parts were available.

Returns and refunds

Find out more about your rights to a refund on our refunds, repairs or replacements page. 

There are also service guarantees which include an expectation the work will be done with due care and skill. 

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