Mr Mason-Cox said, “The facts are that consumers have rights under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), with or without an extended warranty,
Whether it’s a fridge, washing machine or TV, if a manufacturer’s warranty on the products expires after 12 months year, it doesn’t mean a consumer needs to buy an extended warranty”.
She further added, “Always read the terms and conditions of any extended warranty carefully and make your own assessment as to whether it is worth it,’’
“The details in the written material are legally binding so you should rely on what it says, not on what the salesperson says.”
The law is clear. With items like these, it is reasonable for a consumer to expect that their purchase should last beyond 12 months and as such, would be entitled to a repair, refund or replacement even if an extended warranty has lapsed.
Last year, NSW Fair Trading received 340 complaints about extended warranties. Defective goods, repairs and requests for refunds were the focus of grievances recorded.
One case that came to NSW Fair Trading involved a consumer who purchased a washing machine that started rusting after two years and was refused a refund under the extended warranty, as rust was not covered. The consumer received a replacement machine after NSW Fair Trading intervened.
Another consumer contacted NSW Fair Trading after she was asked to pay for someone to uninstall her dryer so that the manufacturer could inspect and repair it.
To this Mr Mason-Cox said, “Consumers should contact the retailer in the first instance to resolve disputes. “But if consumers can’t resolve the matter, they should contact NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20, which have a strong record with solving disputes,”
Some extended warranties may only replace the product or refund customers based on annual depreciation.
“This means the product you get as a replacement may be inferior to the one you originally bought or you may be refunded less money than you originally paid.’’
Suppliers may also be breaching the law if they put undue pressure or use unfair tactics to get consumers to buy an extended warranty or mislead consumers into paying for the rights they already have under the ACL.