Harvey Norman Superstore Bundall in Queensland has been ordered to pay $52,000 by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for false or misleading representations regarding consumer guarantee rights.
The Court ruled that sales representatives made 10 false or misleading representations concerning the existence, exclusion or effect of a guarantee or right.
The sales representatives claimed they had no obligation to provide a remedy and that the customer would need to pursue the manufacturer’s warranty directly with the manufacturer; secondly the store claimed it could not assist further unless the consumer paid for some or all of the cost of the repair.
This conduct continued over a longer period, more staff members were involved and Bunavit’s turnover and profit were substantially higher than those of the other offending companies. However, unlike some of the other cases, none of Bunavit’s senior staff were involved.
ACCC acting chair Dr Michael Schaper said in his ruling said the penalty is a reminder to Australian businesses to not misled customers: “Products sold in Australia come with a consumer guarantee under the Australian Consumer Law that they will be of acceptable quality. Faulty products must be repaired, replaced, or a refund must be provided by the retailer.
“Businesses are expected to take appropriate and effective steps to ensure that their staff understand the rights of consumers and the obligations of businesses under the consumer guarantees provided by the Australian Consumer Law.”
The ACCC has now obtained penalty orders totalling $286,000 against 10 Harvey Norman franchisees for false or misleading representations regarding consumer guarantees.