Water-damaged products

After heavy rain or a flood, vehicles and products may have water damage.

For businesses

All goods

You must be careful when selling goods that may have water damage.

We recommend that you:

  • dispose of damaged products rather than selling them
  • contact your insurance company to find out if you can make a claim for your loss.

If you do decide to sell water-damaged goods (including goods damaged and then restored or repaired), you:

  • must not mislead consumers about the history of the goods
  • must make it clear to consumers the goods have (or had) water damage.

How consumer guarantees apply to damaged goods

You guarantee all goods you sell will meet certain consumer guarantees.

The consumer guarantee for acceptable quality says goods are of acceptable quality if a fully informed consumer considers the goods to be acceptable when making their decision to purchase.

For example

A consumer is considering buying a partially water-damaged outdoor dining set. You point out some discoloration of the wood on the lower parts of the legs is due to water damage. The item is discounted accordingly. The customer, knowing this, buys the item. Ordinarily, the discoloration would mean the dining set fails the test for acceptable quality. However, as the consumer knew of the defect and still considered the item to be of acceptable quality enough to buy, the consumer guarantee has been satisfied.

Goods we strongly recommend you do not sell

We strongly recommend you not sell these types of goods if they were stored in an area that was water-logged.

  • Any product inserted in or around the mouth—such as a toothbrush
  • Wooden or cloth toys that might have absorbed hazardous materials
  • Baby-related products—such as cots, cribs, mattresses, and toys
  • Electrical items—such as hair straighteners, blenders and microwaves
  • Clothing—such as under garments

Rules for motor vehicles

You must tell a buyer when a motor vehicle is a:

  • repairable write-off
  • statutory write-off.

An auctioneer must announce at the start of an auction that the vehicle is a:

  • repairable write-off and must pass a written-off vehicle inspection, or
  • statutory write-off and cannot be registered.

For consumers

All goods

Businesses aren't allowed to lie or not tell you about water-damaged goods.

If you are told about the damage and choose to buy the item anyway, you are accepting that your consumer guarantee for acceptable quality has been met.

If there has recently been a weather event that may have damaged shops or their stock, it is a good idea to ask the business if the item you plan to buy is free from water damage.

Rules for motor vehicles

When you buy a second-hand vehicle, make sure you look out for signs of water damage.

Motor dealers need to follow rules to legally sell:

  • water-damaged vehicles
  • vehicles that have been in accidents.

The dealer must tell you if a motor vehicle is a:

  • statutory write-off
  • repairable write-off.

A statutory write-off:

  • has too much damage to drive safely
  • is not registrable.

You can only use these vehicles for parts or scrap metal.

A repairable write-off is a vehicle that has been assessed as a total loss by an insurer but isn’t a statutory write-off.

You can only register a repairable write-off if it passes:

Learn more about statutory and repairable write-offs