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Consumer Protection Laws

Consumers are protected under the Australian Consumer Law.

Consumers who acquire services for personal, domestic or household use, which have a value less than $40,000 are protected.  This limit of $40,000 does not apply to motor vehicles.

The general protections are against:

  1. Unconscionable conduct;
  2. Misleading and deceptive conduct; and
  3. Unfair terms in contracts.

There are also other consumer guarantees with respect to the quality of the goods or services and that warranties be honoured.

Should there be a failure by a business to satisfy the guarantees providing you with a good or service of acceptable quality, you should immediately bring it to the businesses attention.  The business has an obligation to repair the goods within a reasonable time.

If you do not do so, you have the right to:

  • Get the repairs done elsewhere;
  • Ask for a replacement;
  • Ask for a refund; or
  • Recover compensation for the drop in value below the price paid.

If the business fails to do any of the above, you can lodge a formal complaint with the New South Wales Office of Fair Trading.  Once this occurs the Office will contact the business directly on your behalf and attempt to negotiate a solution or settlement to the dispute.

If the dispute is not resolved you may need to commence proceedings in either a court or a tribunal.  The choice is whether to take the proceedings to the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal or to the Local or District Court of New South Wales.  This will depend on the amount of your claim.

In order to make this decision it is useful to understand the differences between these forums.  You should contact a lawyer to discuss this as the two different forums have varied limitation dates and jurisdictional limits.

If you have a question about consumer law, call Geoff Brazel now on 4324 7699.

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