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Distributors struck dumb by new consumer laws

Tasmania photo specialist Bruce Smart put a few simple questions to his camera suppliers way back in January this year seeking clarification of measures contained the new Australian Consumer Laws.

(For background on the new laws, click here.)

‘Some are yet to respond,’ explained Mr Smart (pictured right). ‘Others, incredibly, have said they can see no need for changes to their existing procedures!

‘To date I have not received a single response to my questions.’

Photo Counter will try to seek a response from several camera distributors on behalf of Bruce Smart and other retailers, in an effort to clear up the many uncertainties the new laws (and a lack of communication from distributors) have created.

These were Mr Smart’s questions to his suppliers:

1.In the event of a ‘Major Failure’ (ie, if a camera stops working during a warranty period), a customer may now optionally demand a refund or replacement. Current procedures allow for repair under warranty as the retailer’s preferred option.

If a customer now demands a replacement or refund, the retailer (called a ‘Supplier’ in the legislation) will have no choice but to honour their request. What now becomes of the failed camera that the retailer now possesses? The retailer can no longer insist that a repair be carried out under warranty. Will there be an understanding that our supplier (the ‘Manufacturer’ in the legislation) automatically replaces the failed camera, or accepts it back and issues a credit note? What is your policy on this?

2. The legislation stipulates that the ‘Manufacturer’ must provide a ‘Consumer Guarantee’ that repairs and spare parts will be available for a ‘Reasonable’ period of time after purchase. The customer now has a right to be informed of this information. What information can you provide us that we can pass on to customers, in regard to purchase of a camera, etc?

3)There is a vague reference in the guidelines (relating to extended warranties) that a consumer may have an expectation that a product should last longer than the manufacturer’s warranty. In this situation, a customer has a right to ask for a ‘Remedy’ if a failure occurs within a ‘Reasonable’ time after a warranty expires. What is your policy on such situations?

4) The guidelines say that specific warranty information must be given in writing to a customer from the following year, (ie 1/1/2012). Presumably we, as retailers, must provide this information up-front at the time of purchase. Will there be any changes required to the standard warranty cards that are supplied with your cameras?

– Seem like sensible, straightforward and reasonable questions for a customer to ask of his supplier. Here’s hoping some of our leading cameras suppliers can help out. We’ll be reporting back over the next couple of weeks…

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