When a business fails to meet a consumer guarantee
Your consumer guarantees apply to products and services you buy, hire or lease from a business.
If a business fails to deliver any of these consumer guarantees, you have consumer rights for:
- repair, replacement or refund
- cancelling a service
- compensation for damages and loss.
Read more about the remedies available to you at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The types of remedy depend on whether the problem is a major or minor failure. We have a simple checklist to work out which it is, outlined below.
The business that sold you a product must help you resolve the problem. If they can’t do it all themselves, they must contact the manufacturer on your behalf.
Failure can happen at any time in the reasonable life of a good or service. A reasonable life is how long you can realistically expect the product to last. This will depend on the type of product. For example, the reasonable life of a new car would be much longer than that of a house-cleaning service.
The business can’t refuse to help you by sending you to the manufacturer or importer.
You can claim a remedy directly from the manufacturer or importer if the goods do not meet one or more of the following consumer guarantees:
- acceptable quality
- matching description
- any extra promises made about things like performance, condition and quality
- repairs and spare parts.
A major failure is when goods or services fall significantly short of a consumer guarantee. You have the right to choose which of these options to take in the event of a major failure.
A major failure with goods is when:
- you would never have bought them if you knew about the problem
- the goods are very different from what you saw in a description, sample or demonstration model
- they’re broken (and can’t be repaired easily), which means they
- can’t do their normal job
- don’t suit the reason you bought them (as long as you told the business about this before buying)
- the goods are dangerous to use.
If there is a major failure with goods, you can choose to:
- get a refund
- swap them for an identical replacement (if it’s reasonable they can get one)
- swap them for a replacement of similar value
- keep the goods and be compensated for any drop in value.
A major failure with services is when:
- you would never have bought the service if you knew about the problem or its extent
- the service does not achieve their usual purpose and this can’t be fixed in a reasonable time
- the service does not achieve the specific purpose you outlined to the business
- the service led to a dangerous situation.
If there is a major failure with a service, you can:
- cancel your contract and claim a refund
- keep the contract and be compensated for any drop in value.
A minor failure is anything not listed above. The business has the right to choose which option to take in the event of a minor failure.
For a minor failure with goods, the business may either:
- provide a refund
- replace the goods
- repair the goods
- fix the title to the goods (if this is the problem).
For a minor failure with a service, the business must fix the problem for free and in a reasonable timeframe.
Making a complaint
If you need help resolving a dispute, refer to understanding the complaint process.