I have recently been talking with a few friends and we have all had experiences with faulty products. This, along with the recent news of several large stores taken to task by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), made me think that a reminder about consumer rights was overdue, especially with many students investing in new computers and other products for university.

You have rights and they cannot be denied by the store or the manufacturer. All new electronics in Australia are covered by a statutory 12 month warranty, which means that retailers must help remedy any issues you have with the product, such as faults or not performing to standard expectations. Other devices and product groups have differing rules. If you pay for a premium product you can expect more than this but you will likely have to mount a strong argument. For example, buying a $2000 laptop rather than the $500 one means you can expect much longer use. If you do not get that then you can request a repair, replacement, or partial refund.

Sometimes you will be told that something is not covered, you need to go elsewhere, or that it is not returnable. This is wrong. I have seen this in the past, where management throws excuses at you in an effort to make you go away. There is an ACCC app for iOS and Android that lists what you are entitled to. Having this on hand to show the sales person can often be helpful and allows you to keep a record of your purchases. Showing an official app with clearly shown rules makes it hard to present and argue misguided information. You can show that you have looked further into the matter and that you know your rights.

You can also expect to be able to return the object for repairs and get it back in a reasonable amount of time. You should ask what this is when you return it — if this is too long you can request a substitute or replacement. Do not forget to get a repair receipt to show when it was received—this is especially important for computers

The laws Australia implemented in 2011 are an improvement and standardisation of the protections consumers have. Look at the ACCC website (www.accc.gov.au) for a comprehensive list of your rights.

Words by Toby Advised