The ACCC says there has been a 39 per cent rise in reports of consumer guarantee issues, with faulty automotive, whitegoods or electronics products emerging as a particular problem.

“It’s disappointing to see that more and more people are having issues enforcing their consumer guarantee rights,” ACCC Acting Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.

“We want shoppers across the country to be aware that they have automatic consumer guarantee rights under the Australian Consumer Law when they purchase a product or service. Businesses cannot ignore these rights under any circumstances.” 

Issues with faulty products and businesses being misleading about consumer rights are some of the most common reasons for people to contact the ACCC.

“Unfortunately a lot of people run into problems when trying to get a remedy for a faulty product. For example, they might be told the product is out of warranty and nothing can be done,” Dr Schaper said.

“Many consumers often assume that the so-called warranties they are offered by a retailer are their only protection. This is not true, as consumer guarantee rights are separate to any warranty that comes with a product. The length of time these rights apply is also unrelated to the manufacturer’s warranty period.”

“For example, if you buy a new TV that breaks down after the manufacturer’s warranty expires, you may still be entitled to a remedy under your consumer guarantee rights, including a repair, replacement or refund,” Dr Schaper said.

Another common issue is businesses telling consumers they need to take a faulty product back to the manufacturer.

“If you return a faulty product to the retailer you purchased it from, they must provide you with a remedy and cannot direct you to the manufacturer instead,” Dr Schaper said.

“One common tip we recommend is saying the three magic words, Australian Consumer Law, to let retailers know you understand your rights. This can help resolve an issue quickly."

People having difficulties obtaining a remedy for a faulty product can use the ACCC’s complaint letter tool to try and resolve the issue with the trader.

If this is unsuccessful, they can contact their local consumer protection agency or report the issue to the ACCC.