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ACCC has second bite at Harveys

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is having a second attempt at bringing nine Harvey Norman stores to court for ‘allegedly misrepresenting consumer rights’.

Rod Sims, chairman, ACCC
Rod Sims, chairman, ACCC

This follows a Federal Court ruling that infringements by the original 11 stores captured up in the initial  ACCC proceedings late last year were unrelated and couldn’t be dealt with together. The ACCC is still to score a major, high-profile scalp to underscore the effectiveness and power of the new Australian Consumer Laws.

While specific allegations made by the ACCC against each of the franchisees differ, examples of the stores’ misrepresentations include:
– the franchisee had no obligation to provide remedies for damaged goods unless notified within a specific period of time, such as 24 hours or 14 days;
– the franchisee had no obligation to provide remedies for goods still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty;
– consumers must pay a fee for the repair and return of faulty products.

‘It is important for these matters to be considered by the court. The ACCC will continue to take enforcement action where it believes that retailers or manufacturers have misled consumers about their rights under the consumer guarantee provisions of the Australian Consumer Law,’ ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

‘Consumers have rights to certain remedies from retailers and manufacturers when goods fail to comply with the consumer guarantee provisions, including that goods are of acceptable quality and fit for the purpose for which they were sold.

‘These rights cannot be excluded, restricted or modified,’ Mr Sims said.

The nine Harvey Norman franchisees are located in Albany, Western Australia; Bundall, Queensland; Campbelltown, New South Wales; Hoppers Crossing, Victoria; Launceston, Tasmania; Mandurah, Western Australia; Moonah, Tasmania; Oxley, Queensland; and Sale, Victoria.

The ACCC is seeking court orders including penalties, declarations, injunctions and costs against each of the nine franchisees.

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