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Consumer guarantees your products must meet

The law automatically gives consumers rights when they buy goods and services from you. These are called consumer guarantees.

There are 9 consumer guarantees that apply to any goods purchased from businesses in Queensland.

Consumer guarantees for goods apply to:

  • anything that costs $40,000 or less
  • anything for personal or household use, regardless of price
  • vehicles and trailers.

Consumer guarantees for goods do not apply to:

  • goods bought before 1 January 2011 (these are covered under previous laws)
  • goods the consumer would normally use for business and cost over $40,000
  • one-off sales by private sellers, garage sales or school fetes (though guarantees about clear title still apply)
  • auctions where the auctioneer is the owner’s agent
  • goods purchased for on-sale (re-supply)
  • goods the consumer plans to use up or transform during a production, manufacturing or repair process.

A consumer can seek a remedy if they buy something that don’t meet these guarantees. This means you must fix the fault. This might be a refund, repair, replacement or compensation for the drop in value of the product.

Find more details about remedies

The following clip from our Australian Consumer Law film explains the consumer guarantees that apply to goods.

Acceptable quality

You guarantee that goods will be of acceptable quality. This means they must:

  • be fit for all of their usual purposes
  • look acceptable in appearance and finish
  • have no defects
  • be safe
  • be durable.

This acceptable quality test considers:

  • the nature of the goods
  • the price paid for the goods
  • any claims the manufacturers make on the packaging or labels
  • anything you or your salespeople claim about the goods.

Examples

A consumer buys a toaster. He takes it home and takes it from its packaging. The toaster looks fine, with no obvious scratches or marks of damage. He uses it a few times without any problems, but a week later he tries to toast some bread with it. The timer mechanism falls off and the toaster throws sparks around the kitchen. The consumer takes it back to the store. He is entitled to a refund because it had a defect—it wasn’t safe and it wasn’t durable.

A homeowner goes to an appliances store to buy a new fridge. The attendant suggests a particular model, saying that it is a major brand and will last for years. She decides to buy it. When it arrives, she sees a label on the box about an easy-to-use defrost function. A year later, she activates the defrost function to clean the freezer. The fridge makes a long wheezing noise and then a loud bang. She phones the store. The fridge did not meet the claim on the box about its function or the sales attendant’s claim about how long it would last. The homeowner is entitled to a remedy.

Exceptions

This guarantee does not apply if:

  • goods are sold privately or at auction
  • your or your salespeople point out any hidden defects before the sale
  • the defect should have been obvious when the consumer first saw the goods (unless they didn’t see them at all before they bought them)
  • the consumer uses the goods in an abnormal way.

Fit for a specific purpose

You guarantee that the goods you sell will be reasonably fit for their intended purpose. This covers their usual purpose plus anything else that you or your salespeople claim that the goods can do.

A consumer might also want goods to do a specific job for them. You guarantee that the product you sell will be suitable, if the consumer:

  • clearly told you or your salesperson how the consumer wanted to use the goods
    and
  • relied on you or your salesperson's knowledge or expertise when deciding if the goods would suit their needs.

Examples

A diver buys a watch that the business says will be suitable for diving. A couple of weeks later, the diver goes for her first dive wearing the new watch. When she surfaces, she sees that the dial has filled with water. The watch is not fit for purpose, so she is entitled to a remedy.

A consumer tells a car dealer that he wants a car capable of towing his boat. The dealer sells him a car, telling him it will do that job. The car's normal purpose is to transport people but, because the consumer told the dealer that he wants to use the car to tow a boat, and then relied on the dealer’s advice in deciding which car to buy, then the car must be able to do so.

Exceptions

This guarantee does not apply when:

  • goods are sold privately or at auction
  • you can show that the consumer did not rely on your, or your salesperson’s, skill or judgment when buying the goods
  • the consumer should have reasonably known not to rely on your, or your salesperson’s, skill or judgement in the circumstances.

Accurate description

You guarantee that your description of goods is accurate. You cannot argue that the consumer inspected the goods before buying them and should have noticed any errors in the description.

This guarantee does not apply to private and auction sales.

Example

A consumer saw an online advertisement for a t-shirt. He liked the design and placed an order for a specific colour, but the t-shirt he received was the wrong colour. He is entitled to a remedy because the shirt does not match the description provided.

Samples or demonstration models

You guarantee that the goods sold will match any sample or demonstration model a consumer is shown.

This guarantee does not apply to private and auction sales.

Example

A consumer orders a new couch. They had been shown a red fabric sample by the furniture shop, but the couch that is delivered is blue. The consumer has a right to a remedy.

Spare parts and repairs

Manufacturers or importers guarantee they will take reasonable steps to provide spare parts and repair facilities. They guarantee they will do so for a reasonable time after goods are sold.

How much time is 'reasonable' will depend on the type of goods. For instance:

  • tyres for a new car should reasonably be available for many years after its purchase
  • spare parts for an inexpensive children's toy are not reasonably likely to be available at all.

This guarantee does not apply to private and auction sales.

Example

A consumer bought a new digital camera a year ago for $2,000. He drops it and it breaks. He contacts the importer and asks how to get it repaired. The importer tells him they no longer supply parts for his camera. The manufacturer has not taken reasonable steps to provide spare parts for such a new camera. The importer must therefore provide a remedy.

Exceptions

This guarantee does not apply if:

  • goods are sold privately or at auction
  • the manufacturer or importer says that repair facilities and spare parts would not be available after a certain time. They must do this in writing before you finalise the sale.

The business’s promises (express warranties)

You guarantee that any extra promises you make on top of the usual consumer guarantees will be satisfied. These might be promises about the quality, state, condition, performance or characteristics of goods. These are called 'express warranties'.

You might also provide a 'warranty against defects' (also called a 'manufacturer’s warranty'). It makes a promise to provide a remedy if something goes wrong with the goods. This is different from an express warranty.

This guarantee does not apply to private and auction sales.

Example

A couple buys a bed after the salesperson tells them that it will last for 10 years. The bed only lasts for 6 years before breaking. The couple is entitled to a remedy.

Ownership (clear title)

You guarantee the goods have 'clear title'—the right to sell the goods to consumers.

If a third party has placed a mortgage or security on the goods, this would mean you have ‘limited title’. This is usually because you owe money to the third party.

This guarantee also applies to private and auction sales.

Example

A consumer buys a car from a car dealer, but the dealer had previously mortgaged the car with their bank. The dealer stops making repayments. To claim on its debt, the bank repossesses the car from the consumer. The consumer is entitled to a remedy from the dealer.

Exception

This guarantee does not apply if the business tells you they only have limited title before they sell you the goods.

Available to use (undisturbed possession)

You guarantee that no one will:

  • take back the goods
  • prevent the consumer from using them
  • limit how the consumer uses them (except for illegal uses).

This guarantee also applies to private and auction sales.

Exceptions

This guarantee does not apply if:

  • the consumer does not meet their obligations under the sale, hire or lease contract
  • the consumer was aware you only had limited title when you sold the goods
  • the consumer was aware when you sold the goods that another person had a security interest over them
  • the consumer hired or leased the goods and the hire or lease has ended.

No debts or hidden charges (free from hidden securities)

You guarantee that any goods sold do not have hidden securities or charges, and this will not change. This means that you can not sell you goods with ‘limited title’ without telling the consumer first.

This guarantee also applies to private and auction sales.

Example

A customer buys a television set from an electronics shop. The shop had already used the television as security for a current loan. The lender calls in the debt and is entitled to take ownership of the television. The business must provide a remedy to the customer, such as replacing the television.

Exceptions

This guarantee does not apply if:

  • the security was placed on the goods with the consumer’s permission
  • an existing security was brought to the consumer’s attention in writing before the consumer bought the goods.