Consumer Guarantees — What Are Your Rights?
The Consumer Guarantees Act 1993 (“CGA”) applies to the supply of goods or services to consumers and offers considerable rights and remedies in the case of faulty goods and/or inadequate services.
Who Does it Protect?
The CGA applies to any supply of goods or services to a consumer. A consumer is anyone acquiring goods or services of a kind ordinarily acquired for personal, domestic or household use or consumption (except where goods are purchased for re-supplying in trade, using to manufacture or process goods or to repair in trade other goods or fixtures on land).
If you acquire goods or services of a type ordinarily acquired for personal, domestic or household use, you are a consumer (even if you purchased the goods or services for business purposes), and the CGA applies.
You can contract out of the CGA only when supplying to a business. If you have not contracted out, the CGA will apply to the purchase of the office computer, work vehicle or tearoom microwave.
What Rights Do You Have?
The CGA implies a number of guarantees into the provision of goods or services, including:
- The seller has the right to sell the goods.
- The goods are of an acceptable quality.
- The services are provided with reasonable care and skill.
- The goods or services are fit for the consumer’s purpose for acquiring them, (where the consumer has expressly or impliedly made the purpose known) or any purpose represented by the seller.
- The goods comply with any description and/or sample supplied.
- The goods or services are supplied at a reasonable price, and services provided in reasonable time (if not already agreed).
- The repairs and spare parts are available.
Is the Price Right?
Where a price has not been previously agreed for goods or services, a consumer does not need to pay more than a reasonable price. If the price has not been discussed, a consumer can order goods from a supplier, without the fear that the supplier will charge more than what is reasonable for those goods.
How Long Should You Wait?
A common complaint is that the time of delivery of goods or services does not meet a customer’s expectations. Under the CGA, goods must be provided, and services completed, within a reasonable period of time.
Where there has been a minor breach or defect, the supplier may elect to either repair, replace or refund the goods, or rectify the services. If this remedy is not completed within a reasonable period of time, the consumer can reject the goods, and in the case of services, either cancel the contract, or have the failure remedied elsewhere and recover all reasonable costs involved.
Where there is a substantial defect, the consumer can either have the goods replaced, or demand a refund. In the case of services, the consumer can cancel the contract or obtain damages for any reduction in value.
A consumer can also obtain damages for any reasonably foreseeable losses. These can include the cost of reinstalling goods, restoration of premises, loss of use of goods, emotional stress, loss of wages, and business losses (where the supplier has not contracted out of the CGA). If you are a business, the cost of non-compliance under the CGA can be very high — make sure you comply!
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