Warranty myth: Save money using consumer rights

The ACCC wants consumers to be armed with the facts the next time they get a dud appliance.

The ACCC wants consumers to be armed with the facts the next time they get a dud appliance. Photo: Getty

Australians are looking to save money as the cost-of-living crisis bites, but many people could be paying for protections they don’t need.

Consumer advocates Choice reported this week that up to seven in 10 Australians wrongly believe that paying for an extended warranty gives them extra protections on their product.

Almost a third of consumers surveyed admitted to buying an extended warranty over the past two years.

But Choice’s head of policy and government relations Patrick Veyret said such warranties are rarely worth the paper they’re printed on.

“If your product becomes faulty or does not work, you will likely be covered for a repair, replacement or refund under the ACL [Australian Consumer Laws],” he said on Wednesday.

“Most extended warranties are offered for a period of around two or three years from the date of purchase.

“In most cases, consumers will already be covered under the ACL during this period if something goes wrong.”

Already protected

About 72 per cent of people told Choice they claimed their extended warranty on a product that was less than two years old – which means that they would have been able to use their consumer rights for free.

Mr Veyret said consumers should take care and avoid paying for rights they already have.

“Getting familiar with your consumer rights will give you the confidence to access them when something goes wrong,” he said.

“If your product breaks or doesn’t work properly, you should be able to get a refund, replacement or repair, depending on whether it’s a major or minor fault and how old the product is.”

Keep in mind that your rights under Australian Consumer Law apply in all circumstances, even if the warranty provided by a retailer or product manufacturer fails to say so.

Always ask the salesperson what protection an extended warranty would provide beyond inherent consumer rights before buying it.

You’ll also need to keep records of your purchases, especially for higher value products like large appliances and entertainment devices.

But even if you don’t have a receipt you can access your consumer rights, Mr Veyret said.

“You can also use credit or debit card statements,” he said.

“If your product is faulty, contact the company you purchased from straight away. If they refuse to help, send them an email explaining your rights under Australian Consumer Law.

“You can also contact your state fair trading agency, or report it to the ACCC [Australian Competition and Consumer Commission] if there’s a safety issue.”

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